AK Blakemore

Author / Poet

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Assistant: Olivia Davies


A. K. Blakemore is the author of two full-length collections of poetry: Humbert Summer (Eyewear, 2015) and Fondue (Offord Road Books, 2018), which was awarded the 2019 Ledbury Forte Prize for Best Second Collection. She has also translated the work of Sichuanese poet Yu Yoyo (My Tenantless Body, Poetry Translation Centre, 2019).  Her poetry and prose writing has been widely published and anthologised, appearing in the The London Review of Books, Poetry, Poetry Review and The White Review, among others. 

Current publication: 

THE GLUTTON -  21st September 2023 by Granta in the UK and S&S in the US.


Sister Perpetue is not to move. She is not to fall asleep. She is to sit, keeping guard over the patient's room. She has heard the stories of his hunger, which defy belief: that he has eaten all manner of creatures and objects. A child even, if the rumours are to be believed. But it is hard to believe that this slender, frail man is the one they once called The Great Tarare, The Glutton of Lyon.

Before, he was just Tarare. Well-meaning and hopelessly curious, born into a world of brawling and sweet cider, to a bereaved mother and a life of slender means. The 18th Century is drawing to a close, unrest grips the heart of France and life in the village is soon shaken. When a sudden act of violence sees Tarare cast out and left for dead, his ferocious appetite is ignited, and it's not long before his extraordinary abilities to eat make him a marvel throughout the land.

Following Tarare as he travels from the South of France to Paris and beyond, through the heart of the Revolution, The Glutton is an electric, heart-stopping journey into a world of tumult, upheaval and depravity, wherein the hunger of one peasant is matched only by the insatiable demands of the people of France.


'A baroque triumph to parallel such classics as Rose Tremain’s Restoration and Patrick Süskind’s Perfume'  - FT

''There are few writers who can be truly likened to Hilary Mantel, but Blakemore is one: not only because Mantel wrote novels about both the French Revolution and the life of a human exhibit, but because Blakemore shares her rare ability to reanimate the past in a way that makes it knowable to us, while remaining true to itself.'  - Stephanie Merrit in the Guardian

‘A tour de force of sustained visceral brilliance. Although not for the squeamish, it ultimately rescues a real human being from the caricature that history made of him.’ Mail on Sunday

‘Remarkable for its beautiful language, for its hallucinatory imagery, and for its ability to mingle these things with the world of 18th-century poor folk... certain to be one of the most remarkable novels of the year. As a reviewer, I generally give books away when I’ve finished writing about them. This one I will keep.’ The Guardian

‘Tarare’s story is a breathless picaresque… A published poet, Blakemore likes to push words to their limits… her avidity for language is a fitting analogue to the hunger of her sad, insatiable hero.’ Sunday Times

'A sickeningly good novel... Blakemore’s writing is exceptional, saturated with the viscera of this life' - the Telegraph 

‘THE GLUTTON is an embarrassment of riches. A sensory assault fit to slap any reader awake with its gorgeous glut of baroque prose and wise, poised lessons on life, pleasure, class, desire, and love’ - Kiran Millwood Hargrave

'This book contains some of the most striking writing I have read in a very long time. An audacious and humane study of desire, pain and tenderness; a remarkable book about a remarkable subject by a remarkable writer.'   - Keiran Goddard, author of Hourglass. 

‘Can there be any human frailty beyond this author’s understanding? The Glutton is an extraordinary accomplishment, a truly horrible and truly glorious novel. I devoured it. AK Blakemore’s intelligence is tempered by a profound and merciful human compassion, and the tragic making and breaking of Tarare is going to be with me for quite some time. Heartbreaking.’ - Annie Garthwaite

'Relentless and shocking, bursting with life in all its thrilling vulgarity, The Glutton will dog your days. Blakemore’s history is not to be tiptoed around. Her prose is unstoppable, full of bawdy viscera, singing of the cruelty and seduction of the past. Yet here too, are we: our born innocence, our basest desires, our capacity for decay. This book is an ugly beautiful creation, excitingly real; it will have you squirming between sympathy and revulsion, pleasure and pain' - Alex Hyde

"Gorgeous and brutal, striking and wise, The Glutton is, at its core, a rich story of the lengths we will go to find belonging. A lyrical and propulsive reimagined historical rendering that will strike a deep cord with today's readers. Like nothing else I've ever read. Absolutely outstanding."--Chelsea Bieker, author of Heartbroke and Godshot 

"This year, I found myself seeking one quality above all others from the books I read: escapism...And no book plunged me into another world quite so bracingly as A.K. Blakemore’s second novel, The Glutton. It’s a grisly and utterly gripping picaresque following the life of Tarare, a young man in 18th-century France who flees his hometown after a violent run-in, eventually becoming a street performer, solider, and spy. It’s just as immersive and vividly realized as any work of science fiction or fantasy—and a lot more gory...there’s also something of Hilary Mantel in the way that Blakemore is able to bring the past...to life with such vibrancy. Through Blakemore’s pen, the past is not so much a foreign country as it is a hall of mirrors that reflects and refracts the world we currently live in—whether via richly sensorial language that allows you to step into Tarare’s shoes, providing a visceral link between his furious hunger and your own craving for your next meal; or through the finely-drawn parallels between Tarare’s world of food riots and bread marches and our current age of stark inequality.' - Vogue

Previous books: 

THE MANNINGTREE WITCHES - 4th March 2021 by Granta in the UK and Catapult in the US.






THE WRITERS GUILD 2021 Best Debut Novel Shortlist 




'AK Blakemore is a highly talented prose-smith and writes so savagely well about a culture in thrall to righteous conviction rather than the facts that this inglorious period in English history could almost be our own' - Sunday Times Book of the Year 2021

‘Blakemore has previously published two collections of poetry and it shows; the way in which she makes this award-winning tale of witch trials in 17th-century Essex sing with vivid and sensual language is remarkable… [Blakemore’s] deft commentary on the patriarchy, balancing wit and anger, fear and suspicion… makes this debut such a joy… Full of relevance for our times' - the Observer 

'a fierce debut historical novel' - Los Angeles Times

'Blakemore is a one in a million writer... 'feisty'.. 'radical'... 'sexually charged' - the TLS 

‘Brims with language of arresting loveliness… rendered with sensuous precision… [The] inchwise slide into depravity is as compelling as it is queasily familiar… What happens [is] persuasive and satisfying… The Manningtree Witches ventures into dark places, to be sure, but it carries a jewelled dagger. Blakemore is a poet, and readers given to underlining may find their pencils worn down to stubs… Such sharp wit and rich textures would be welcome in any setting, but here they form what seems a fitting tribute. The persecutors in this tale are given close scrutiny, but the book belongs to the persecuted. And on these pages, in all their ordinary glory, those women are at last allowed to live’ - the Guardian

‘Poet A‘[A] bleakly gorgeous reimagining… [Blakemore] has alchemy in her fingertips…  Her prose has the animating tactility of Hilary Mantel’s historical fiction: she lingers with almost wanton sensuality on the taste, touch, colour and smell of life in a terrorised 17th-century English village. She neatly avoids romanticising her female characters… In concentrating […] on the rabid pathology of the times, she paints a resonant portrait of our own’ K Blakemore’s visceral debut glimmers with darkness and glints with fear… Blakemore brilliantly describes the uneasiness of this world… [The] story is told by Rebecca West, a resourceful, sharp oddity, whose observations are vivid and original’ - the Daily Mail 

‘Exploring male oppression and misogyny trussed up as religious fervour, Blakemore’s brilliantly written story is both fascinating and compelling’ - Stylist Magazine
"Blakemore’s novel, as Rebecca Tamás puts it, 'makes the past breathe,' with a captivating ferocity of language, deftly wrought characters, and richly spooky images that tell a story I couldn’t put down despite the dreaded ending I knew I was in for. But the past breathes whether Blakemore brings it to life or not. The present moment is a continuation of the past. We are here because we were there. We are still there."  - Full Stop
"Inventive, sharp-witted . . . The author is a devastatingly good prose stylist . . . Blakemore’s ambitious and fresh take on the era will delight readers."  - Publishers Marketplace
‘It’s believed 300 Manningtree women were accused of witchcraft… AK Blakemore writes these forgotten women back into the history books, fleshing them out with skill and empathy… Blakemore is a poet by trade… and it most certainly shows – in all the right ways… [Blakemore] gives a voice to the women who were silenced and slaughtered… [A] bold and poetic debut’ - the Skinny

"This book is extraordinary first for the richness of the language, which is partly born from a remarkably sensitive use of 17th century English but is also brilliantly Blakemore’s own. Her heroines are real, thinking people, sometimes petty and self-interested, sometimes courageous and generous, and often startlingly funny. She masterfully shows us a world where witchcraft feels absolutely real to real people, but where it can also be a cynical lie used to weaponize malice and misogyny—a phenomenon that feels frighteningly topical in the era of QAnon and Pizzagate. The Manningtree Witches is not just the best debut novel I’ve read in years, it’s the best historical novel I’ve read since Wolf Hall."- Sandra Newman, author of The Heavens

'A major debut' - The Bookseller

"In Blakemore’s debut novel, her background as a poet is clear. The language is striking, full of distinctive insights regarding gender, truth, and religious devotion . . . Historical fiction has rarely felt so immediate." —Kirkus Reviews

‘The Manningtree Witches is a deft, witty debut novel – a work of historical fiction that wears its research lightly… the language is dazzling and precise, history always informing imagery… But it’s the characters, alive and agile, that draw us in: amid the dust and gloom, we are right there with the witches, facing down the men who’d see them hanged for nothing’  - the New Statesman 

‘A powerful debut… [Blakemore’s] prose has a richness that adds extra depth' - the Sunday Times

'Dark, original, unsettling, and crackling with fierce and visceral life, The Manningtree Witches heralds the birth of an utterly vital new voice in fiction. AK Blakemore makes the past breathe, and allows it, with dazzling candour, to speak hotly to the complicated reality of our own moment.' - Rebecca Tamás

“I loved this riveting, appalling, addictive debut. Blakemore captures the shame of poverty and social neglect unforgettably, and the alluring threat of women left alone together, in a novel which vividly immerses the reader in the world of those who history has tried to render mute.” - Megan Nolan author of Acts of Desperation

'A.K. Blakemore's debut is a riveting, unsettling story of menace, corruption, and muck, rendered in limber, evocative prose that delights and surprises at every turn. Its heroine wants too much, and too often, and the wrong thing—which is quite a bit more dangerous than usual, considering this is 17th century England and the Witchfinder General has just come to town. Based on actual events, but told in a deliciously brazen voice, this novel reads like Fleabag meets Hilary Mantel: bawdy, bewitching, weird, and wise. I loved every minute, and even when I was horrified, I didn't want to look away.' — Emily Temple, author of The Lightness 

‘AK Blakemore’s exceptionally accomplished debut feels especially pertinent… Blakemore shows, with chilling familiarity, how readily the instinctive desire to cast blame in times of hardship leads people to turn on the poor and the marginal… But the novel’s shining quality is its language. Blakemore is an award-winning poet, and she is as precise in evoking the liminal landscape of the Stour estuary as the inside of a jail cell. She has created a style that feels at once modern and convincingly 17th century, where the occasional anachronism, rather than jarring, only adds to the sense of unease. We recognise these women – their desires, their fears and their anger – because, the novel seems to suggest, there is not so much that separates us from them after all.’ - the Observer


Praise for Fondue:

'Uninhibited, uncensored, dazzling in its varieties of rhetorical address, Fondue would seem to have reinvented the lyric from scratch. A. K. Blakemore is a magician of shimmering concision, fierce intellect, and disarming juxtapositions. She dares us to be joyful, and at risk.' - Linda Gregerson, Judge of the Ledbury Forte Prize

'Fondue, her second full-length collection, explores the experience of being a woman: what it means to desire, to be desired, and to try to reconcile this desire with feminism and feminist thought . . . Blakemore is steadily and carefully experimenting; the poems in Fondue are consistently engaging and strong.' - 'Unravel, ravel, unravel': A.K. Blakemore's Fondue reviewed by Jenna Clake for Review 31

'[T]he poems in Fondue are captivating in their fearlessness . . . taboos might be reclaimed not just as fury or invigorated language, but also as revelry.' - 'Reclaimed experience': Alexa Winik discovers a powerful 'poetics of vulnerability' for Poetry Review


Publication DetailsNotes

Granta (UK), Catapult (US)

England, 1643. Parliament is battling the King; the war between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers rages. Puritanical fervour has gripped the nation, and the hot terror of damnation burns black in every shadow. In Manningtree, depleted of men since the wars began, the women are left to their own devices. At the margins of this diminished community are those who are barely tolerated by the affluent villagers - the old, the poor, the unmarried, the sharp-tongued. Rebecca West, daughter of the formidable Beldam West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only by her infatuation with the clerk John Edes. But then newcomer Matthew Hopkins, a mysterious, pious figure dressed from head to toe in black, takes over The Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about the women of the margins. When a child falls ill with a fever and starts to rave about covens and pacts, the questions take on a bladed edge. The Manningtree Witches plunges its readers into the fever and menace of the English witch trials, where suspicion, mistrust and betrayal ran amok as the power of men went unchecked and the integrity of women went undefended. It is a visceral, thrilling book that announces a bold new talent.


Publication DetailsNotes



Offord Road Books

In these louche, candid poems, bearing the marks of Mary Ruefle, Emily Dickinson and The Smiths, the inner life prowls, smoking a cigarette, as the fantasies of sex and violence allowed to play out in the subjugations that have long been the poet's concerns. Here they are exposed, interrogated and attacked with a fierce melancholy. These lines understand their power to manipulate: 'this is a poem about my mouth / intended to draw attention / to my mouth', the title poem instructs.

Humbert Summer


Eyewear Publishing

Humbert Summer is a book about the febrile matter of fantasy in its rawest form alternately subversive, awkward, romantic and unsettling. Written between the ages of sixteen and twenty-three, the poems in A. K. Blakemore s debut full-length collection navigate the challenging space between adolescence and (abortive) adulthood in a culture quick to dismiss, commodify or fetishise the female body and imagination.