Julie Burchill

Julie Burchill

Infobox Writer
name = Julie Burchill

imagesize =
caption =
pseudonym =
birthdate = Birth date and age|1959|7|3|df=y
birthplace = Frenchay, Bristol, England
deathdate =
deathplace =
occupation = novelist, columnist
nationality = British
period = 1976-present
genre =
subject =
movement =
debut_works =
influences =
influenced =

website =
footnotes =
main_work = Sugar Rush, 2004

Julie Burchill (born 3 July 1959 in Frenchay, Bristol) is an English writer, renowned for her invective and often contentious prose for a number of publications over the last thirty years. Beginning as a writer for the "New Musical Express" at the age of 17, she has written for newspapers such as "The Sunday Times" and "The Guardian". Despite her prominence, she has her detractors. For Michael Bywater Burchill's "insights were, and remain, negligible, on the level of a toddler having a tantrum". [cited in [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/281176.stm "Julie Burchill Speaks Out Shock!",] BBC News, 23 February 23, 1999. Retrieved on 5 August 2008.]

According to Will Self though, "Burchill's great talent as a journalist is to beautifully articulate the inarticulate sentiments and prejudices of her readers".Will Self [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_19990425/ai_n14219232/pg_1?tag=artBody;col1 "Interview: The Doll Within",] "The Independent", 25 April 1999, as reproduced on the "Find Articles" website. Retrieved on 3 August 2008.]

Life and career

Early years

Julie Burchill was born in Bristol, England to working class parents. She did not attend university, but a teacher at her secondary school apparently told her parents that if she got a job in the local biscuit factory - like others from her school - it would be like putting a pheasant in a fish tank.

She started her career, aged 17, as a writer at the "New Musical Express" (NME) after responding, co-incidentally with her husband-to-be Tony Parsons, to an advert in that paper seeking "hip young gunslingers" to write about the then emerging punk movement. Burchill was briefly married to Parsons but now frequently attacks him; she claims to have got through the "sexual side" of their marriage "by pretending that my husband was my friend Peter York".Julie Burchill [http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2000/jun/17/weekend.julieburchill "Self indulgent",] "The Guardian", 17 June 2000. Retrieved on 3 August 2008.] After Parsons, Burchill married Cosmo Landesman, the son of Fran and Jay Landesman. Each marriage produced one son, both of whom lived with their fathers after the separations.

In her few years at the NME she was assigned the punk beat and notably wrote review of the Sex Pistols' "Never Mind the Bollocks" album on its release in 1977. Around this time she was briefly a member of the Socialist Workers' Party after meeting the journalist Paul Foot. [Ben Granger [http://www.spikemagazine.com/0605-julie-burchill.php "Julie Burchill: Sugar Rush: Hurricane Julie",] SpikedMagazine.com, June 2005. Retrieved on 18 August 2008.] She left her position at the NME aged 20, saying that writing about music should be a young person's game. She then started freelancing to be able to write about other subjects, although she has never completely given up writing about pop music.


Her main employers after the "New Musical Express" were "The Face" and "The Sunday Times" where she wrote about politics, pop, fashion and society, and was their film critic from 1984-86. She now admits making up film reviews and "skived" from screenings. One of her most controversial opinions from her early freelance career concerned the Falklands War in 1982. The left generally condemned it as an imperialist war Fact|date=June 2007, but Burchill, in common with Christopher Hitchens, argued that the military dictatorship of General Galtieri represented a greater evil. She confounded the left again, and won many admirers on the right, by writing articles favourable to Margaret Thatcher. Her unfashionable sympathy for Thatcher helped in gaining a column for "The Mail on Sunday", where in 1987 she went against the paper's usual political line by urging its readers to vote Labour. Though she claims to like the "MoS", she said of journalists on the "Daily Mail" in 2008: "Everybody knows that hacks are the biggest bunch of adulterers, the most misbehaving profession in the world - and you have people writing for the Daily Mail writing as though they are vicars ... moralising on single mothers and whatnot."

Netherless, Burchill has always claimed she has never renounced the Communist beliefs of her youth. She is a consistent defender of the old Soviet Union. Burchill champions the working-class against the middle-class in most cases, and has been particularly vocal in defending the chavs. [Julie Burchill [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7-1488120,00.html "Yeah but, no but: why I'm proud to be a chav",] "The Times", February 18 2005.]

Into the 1990s

In the 1980s and early 1990s, before her move to Brighton, Burchill was depicted and saw herselfJulie Burchill [http://www.guardian.co.uk/drugs/Story/0,2763,328605,00.html "You're going to die, so you might as well live",] "The Guardian", 6 June 2000. Retrieved on 3 August 2008.] as being the "Queen of the Groucho".Yvonne Roberts [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/julie-burchill-not-so-much-journalist-as-court-jester-714277.html "Not so much journalist as court jester",] "The Independent" 12 June 2000.] A user of coke at the time and since,Deborah Orr [http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/deborah-orr/drugs-more-drugs-and-burchill-714574.html "Drugs, more drugs and Burchill",] "The Independent", 8 June 2000. Retrieved on 3 August 2008.] sharing in the activity in the company of Will Self among others, she was totally positive about her use in "The Guardian" when defending actor Danniella Westbrook for the loss of her septum through her own cocaine use. Deborah Orr in "The Independent" was scathing of Burchill for the article: "She does not identify herself as a cocaine addict, so she has no pity for Ms Westbrook." A letter in "The Independent" in June 2000 from the head waitress at the Groucho Club at the time, Deborah Bosley, caused a minor stir. Responding to an article by Yvonne Roberts, Bosley, by then the partner of Richard Ingrams, a long standing critic of Burchill, alleged that Burchill was merely "a fat bird in a blue mac sitting in the corner" when esconced at the Groucho. [Deborah Bosley [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20000618/ai_n14303951 "Letter: Sad fatty in blue",] "The Independent", 18 June 2000 as reproduced on the "Find Articles" website. Retrieved on 3 August 2008.] Her novel "Ambition" (1989) though was a bestseller.

In 1991, Burchill, Landesman and Toby Young established a short-lived magazine "Modern Review" through which she met Charlotte Raven, with whom she had a much publicised affair. Burchill "was only a lesbian for about six weeks in 1995" she claimed in an interview with Lynn Barber in 2004,Lynn Barber [http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2004/aug/22/fiction.features5 "Growing pains",] "The Observer", 22 August 2004. Retrieved on 3 August 2008. ] or "my very enjoyable six months of lesbianism" in a 2000 article. Launched under the slogan "Low culture for high brows", the magazine lasted until 1995, when the Burchill and her colleagues fell out. It was briefly revived by Burchill, with Raven editing, in 1997.

Burchill is perhaps best known in America for the "Fax wars" or "Battle of the Bitches" in 1993 with author Camille Paglia. [ [http://website.lineone.net/~jon.simmons/julie/paglia.htm "The Battle Of the Bitches: Fax Off and Die You Bitch!",] 1993 exchange. Retrieved on 23 June 2007.]


For five years until 2003 Burchill wrote a weekly column in "The Guardian". Appointed in 1998 by Orr, while editor of the "Guardian Weekend" supplement, Burchill's career was in trouble; she had been sacked by the revived "Punch" magazine. Burchill frequently thanks Orr for rescuing her. One of the pieces she wrote for "The Guardian" was in reaction to the murder of BBC TV presenter Jill Dando in 1999. She compared the shock of Dando's murder to finding a "tarantula in a punnet full of strawberries".

Burchill left "The Guardian" acrimoniously, saying in an interview that they had offered her a sofa in lieu of a pay rise. She claims to have left the newspaper in protest at what she saw as its "vile anti-Semitism". [ [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/749291.html "Bleeding-heart ignoramuses",] "Haaretz", August 11, 2006]

She moved to "The Times", who were more willing to meet her demands. Shortly after starting her weekly column, she referred to George Galloway, but appeared to confuse him with former MP Ron Brown, reporting the misdeeds of Brown as those of Galloway. Galloway threatened legal action which was averted when she apologised and "The Times" paid damages. [Owen Gibson [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/media/story/0,12123,1170342,00.html "Galloway demands Burchill apology",] "The Guardian", 16 March 2004. Retrieved on 23 June 2007.]

Having previously converted to Christianity as a Lutheran in 1999, she announced in February 2006 plans for a year's sabbatical from journalism, during which she planned, among other things, to study theology. "The Times" dropped her Saturday column, and had arranged a more flexible arrangement where Burchill writes for the daily paper. [Stephen Brook [http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,,1705622,00.html "Burchill goes on sabbatical for God",] "The Guardian", 9 February 2006. Retrieved on 23 June 2007.] In June 2007 she announced that she would not be returning to journalism, but will instead concentrate on writing books and TV scripts and finally undertake a theology degree. [Stephen Brook [http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,,2107536,00.html "Julie Burchill bows out of journalism",] "The Guardian", June 21 2007. Retrieved on 23 June 2007.] It emerged during a "Guardian" interview, published on 4 August 2008,Ben Dowell [http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/aug/04/pressandpublishing1 Interview: Julie Burchill: 'I have no ambition left'] , "The Guardian", 4 August 2008.] that in fact she "was given the jolly old heave ho" by "The Times", and paid off for the last year of her three year contract, still receiving the £300,000 she would have earned if she had been obliged to provide copy. She has since returned to writing for "The Guardian" newspaper. [Julie Burchill [http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/julie_burchill/2007/12/why_i_love_tesco.html "Why I Love Tesco",] "The Guardian", December 19 2007. Retrieved on 20 December 2007.]

Burchill has made frequent attacks on various celebrity figures, which have attracted criticism for their cruelty, though her supporters note the self-deprecating aspects of her persona. Asked by Will Self in a 1999 interview if she was solipsistic, she responded with the comment: "I don't know - I didn't go to university". She described her columns for her abbreviated "Times" contract, which ended abruptly in 2007, thus: "I was totally taking the piss. I didn't spend much time on them and they were such arrant crap." Burchill has also on occasions expressed concern for animal welfare. She is a supporter of the Safe Haven for Donkeys in the Holy Land.

In 2003, Burchill was ranked number 85 in Channel 4's poll of "100 Worst Britons". The poll was inspired by the BBC series "100 Greatest Britons", though it was less serious in nature. The aim was to discover the "100 worst Britons we love to hate". The poll specified that the nominees had to be British, alive and not currently in prison or pending trial.

Her 2004 lesbian-themed novel for teenagers "Sugar Rush" was produced by Shine Limited and aired on Channel 4. [ [http://www.shinelimited.com/about.jsp?id=4&aid=1 "Filming starts on Burchill's teen drama for Channel 4",] Shine: News, 2005. Retrieved on 23 June 2007.] She has made television documentaries about the death of her father from asbestosis in 2002 (BBC Four) and "heat" magazine broadcast on Sky One in 2006.

As well as continuing with her studies, she is working on three booksFact|date=August 2008 and two documentaries, and has contributed an introduction to the novel "A Year in the Life of TheManWhoFellAsleep" by Greg Stekelman.

Burchill's book co-written book with Chas Newkey-Burden "" appeared in August 2008.

Moreover, besides writing occasional pieces for "The Guardian", she has recently become a columnist for the new, centre-right/neoconservative politics and culture magazine, "Standpoint".

Burchill in Brighton in the 2000s

She has lived in Brighton and Hove since 1993 and a book on her adopted home town titled "Made In Brighton" (Virgin Books) was published in April 2007. Her house in Hove was sold (and demolished for redevelopment as high-density flats) around 2005 for £1.5 million, [Mark Simpson [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4159/is_20050327/ai_n13483648/pg_2 "Cover Story: The queer lady",] "The Independent on Sunday", 27 March 2005. Retrieved on 22 June 2007.] in part the reason why she was able to announce her retirement from journalism.

After splitting from Landesman, she subsequently married again, to her former lover Charlotte Raven's brother Daniel Raven, about 13 years her junior. She wrote of the joys of having a "toyboy" in her "Times" "Weekend Review" column. Fellow NME journalist/author Paul Wellings wrote about their friendship in his book "I'm A Journalist...Get Me Out Of Here".


*"The Boy Looked at Johnny" co-written with Tony Parsons, 1978
*"Love It or Shove It", 1985
*"Girls on Film", 1986
*"Damaged Gods: Cults and Heroes Reappraised", 1987
*"Ambition", 1989
*"Sex and Sensibility", 1992
*"No Exit", 1993
*"Married Alive", 1998
*"I Knew I Was Right", 1998, an autobiography
*"Diana", 1999
*"The Guardian Columns 1998-2000", 2000
*"On Beckham", 2002
*"Sugar Rush", 2004 (adapted for television in 2005)
*"Made in Brighton", 2007 co-written with her husband Daniel Raven
*"Not In My Name: A compendium of modern hypocrisy", 2008 co-written with Chas Newkey-Burden


External links

* [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/graphics/2005/02/22/bvburch22.jpgPhoto]
* [http://www.julieburchill.org.uk/ Unofficial Julie Burchill website]
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Archive/0,5673,-4,00.html "Guardian" columns by Julie Burchill]
* [http://www.spikemagazine.com/0605-julie-burchill.php Hurricane Julie] 2005 Spike Magazine extensive interview with Julie Burchill
* [http://www.channel4.com/life/microsites/S/sugar_rush/index.html Details of Sugar Rush on Channel 4]
* [http://homepage.ntlworld.com/l_tabraham/jbrr.htm The Julie Burchill Random Recycler]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Julie Burchill — ➡ Burchill * * * …   Universalium

  • Burchill — The surname Burchill can refer to:*Paul Burchill (aka Birchall), English professional wrestler *Katie Lea Burchill (aka Katarina Waters), English female professional wrestler *Mark Burchill, Scottish international soccer player *Charlie Burchill …   Wikipedia

  • Tony Parsons (British journalist) — Tony Parsons (born November 1953) is a British journalist and author.Born in Romford, Parsons grew up on an Essex council estate and began his career as a music journalist on the NME , writing about punk music and taking drugs with the Sex… …   Wikipedia

  • Modern Review (London) — Modern Review was the name of a London based magazine reviewing popular arts and culture, founded by Julie Burchill, Cosmo Landesman and its editor, Toby Young. It was published from 1991 to 1995 and principally financed by Peter York. Amongst… …   Wikipedia

  • Chas Newkey-Burden — is a British journalist and author. His books include The Reduced History of Britain, Great Email Disasters and Not In My Name: A Compendium Of Modern Hypocrisy (co written with Julie Burchill). He has also written unauthorised biographies of… …   Wikipedia

  • The Guardian — For other uses, see The Guardian (disambiguation). The Guardian A Guardian front page from July 2011 Type Daily newspaper Format Berliner …   Wikipedia

  • Sugar Rush — infobox Book name = Sugar Rush title orig = translator = image caption = author = Julie Burchill cover artist = country = United Kingdom language = English series = genre = Novel publisher = Macmillan Children s Book release date = 2004 media… …   Wikipedia

  • Punk rock — This article is about the music genre. For the play of the same name, see Punk Rock (play). Punk rock Stylistic origins Rock and roll • folk • rockabilly • ska • surf rock • garage rock • …   Wikipedia

  • NME — Not to be confused with the Canadian music magazine Music Express (magazine). For other uses, see NME (disambiguation). New Musical Express Cover of NME (28 December 2010) Editor Krissi Murison Categories Music ma …   Wikipedia

  • Chav — A scally wearing a burberry cap …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.