Philip Wickham:  A Brief Biography


                                         Fiona Sullivan

When asked about his school life, Philip Wickham once told me that he had left school with very little other than, much hair growth a habitual craving for nicotine and a love of the English language: he also added, ‘to this end I have consistently aspired to become an accomplished and consummate writer and through my feeble scribblings have consistently and consummately failed!’

His reviews however, offer a different analysis. 


Philip started writing in earnest in 1998 when he ‘set sail’ with his first novel, The Summerhouse. He once wrote to the poet Brian Patten, ‘writing seems to be a strange bedfellow; sometimes it flows like a good red wine and other times it’s as sporadic as sheep droppings, alors!’ As for the setting sail he wrote elsewhere, ‘I may have to row out from the shore for a while before I set sail. Then again my vessel may turn out to be a pedalo’. In, The Summerhouse, he crafted his own childhood memories and creative imaginings together to form a gentle meander through the main character’s life…Henry. He called it, ‘a ponderous and flowery book, with little plot’, and yet secretly it is the one to which he returns.


He has consciously avoided falling into the “same genre” furrow and has always written stories that he likes to read; which is a refreshing change from writing for fame and fortune. As he says, ‘I write books that I like, and can sit down with.’ You can read what you will from that statement. When I asked him once what had prompted him to write? He said that he simply wanted to leave something behind; that money is okay but words have greater meaning: to leave behind some prose that his daughters could read after he has gone: his emotions…his thoughts. That sentiment touched me.


When he asked me to write this introduction for him, he said that whatever I wrote he would put in, warts and all, without change. Now I know him, and any form of flattery or sycophancy he would smile and shrug off. He greets praise with a grateful unassuming modesty - and he’ll no doubt edit that sentiment! I have heard him say, on more than one occasion, ‘don’t buy it, I’ll give you a copy’. After years of persuasion he has put this website together to promote his “scribblings”. He has so far been blissfully uncontaminated by the struggle to achieve acknowledgment or prominence. So, Philip, I will satisfy your constant self-criticism by saying, yes, you’re a feeble writer! I hope that brings a smile to your face.


I end this précis by quoting his own introduction from his latest novel; I think it goes some way in explaining the man behind the pen.      



 “And in the end, am I not unlike any other unremarkable, ordinary human being: the person who embarks on the journey with all the answers; the person who makes the same mistakes, takes the wrong turns, suffers unrequited love; is sometimes lost and has regrets. But also, the person who has made the best of the life they have; the person who has nurtured great friendships, found contented acceptance in a wrong turn, learned from their mistakes and has known love and as for regrets; regrets are the past that cripple you in the present and are best left where they reside, in the past. As for being lost, sometimes you have to lose your way to find yourself. Life is remarkable and spectacular and I’ve always thought; is not life what you make of it?”


Lime Twigs and Dancing Iguanas © Philip Wickham 2012



And of his “scribblings”…


“One thing to which I am most grateful

Is that my work slumbers on, sweetly,

Not yet discovered,

And shall not conjure that most

Haunting spectre,

The fear of being forgotten.”  


Collected poems © Philip Wickham 2009


What do I do if I get "writers block"?

I close my notebook or laptop and walk away until such time that a sentiment, a lyric, a waft of perfume, an overheard conversation in a café bar etc. inspires creativity.

"A thought came to me the other day,
I've no idea where it came from,
I think it came from someone
Who had just thrown it away."

Collected Poems 2003

This column will be used for any questions that I have been asked relating to my scribblings.