Chris Taylor obituary

·2 min read

My friend Chris Taylor, who has died of cancer aged 69, described herself modestly on Twitter as “Director of New Writing South, lapsed writer, aspiring cook”. She was rather more than that. Chris was a force. She set up New Writing South, a non-profit organisation, to champion and encourage writers, after running a successful theatre PR business, and also pursued her own creative practice in both writing and the visual arts.

Chris was born in London, the daughter of Rose (nee Warshafski), a legal secretary, and Len Taylor, a school teacher. She enjoyed art at primary school and discovered theatre at secondary school in Southall, where she played lead roles in school productions.

She trained as a teacher at Padgate College, Cheshire, and spent a couple of years as a youth worker in Ealing, west London. A chance meeting in a pub in 1979, however, led to Chris co-managing the New Inn, a small pub theatre in Ealing, for two years. She described this as the steepest learning curve of her career. She booked, cast, stage managed and acted in the shows, as well as running the box office and front of house.

She was also beginning to cultivate her skills as a publicist. In 1981 she went to work at Fairfield Halls in Croydon and in 1982 went on to become head of publicity for Cambridge Theatre Company. In Cambridge she also met David Robbins around the same time. They later married in 1996 but later divorced.

In the mid-1980s Chris returned to London to do freelance press and publicity for arts organisations, ranging from the National Theatre to the community focused Albany centre in Deptford. In 1987 she set up her own PR agency, known at various times as Taylor’s and Black and White. She represented English National Ballet, the English Shakespeare Company and the Young Vic, and also companies with a focus on new writing, such as Paines Plough and Temba.

Chris’s final move, in the late 1992, was to Brighton. Initially she continued with theatre press and PR work but in 1999 took a master’s in creative writing at Sussex University. From the contacts she made there came a new organisation, Pier Playwrights, initially run from her front room. Chris’s organising and networking skills and enthusiasm played a big part in making Pier Playwrights grow to become New Writing South, now an Arts Council funded National Portfolio Organisation.

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Chris retired from New Writing South in 2016. Renowned for her hospitality, she then ran a catering company from her tiny kitchen.

She is survived by her mother, Rose, sister, Ros, and nephew, Sam. Her father and a brother, Laurence, predeceased her.





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