The Viney Agency


David Ambrose

Matthew Yorke’s first novel, The March Fence, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize. Hilary Mantel said of it: ‘Distinctive, energetic… the narrative takes a real grip…” Allan Massie described it as: “A novel which throbs with life and wonder at the manifold varieties of experience… the best first novel I have read in a very long time.”

An engineer by profession, Matthew worked for many years in Leeds, first as a welder, then as director of a company specialising in the manufacture of stainless steel pressure vessels and storage tanks. The north of England is the setting for his second novel, Chancing It, the story of a family’s descent into gambling. Karl Miller in The Glasgow Herald called it: “Well-worded, well-made, funny, grave and quietly suspenseful.” Tom Boncza-Tomaszewski in The Independent wrote: “A wry, politically charged novel, Chancing It is much more than a simple fable.”

Matthew’s third novel, Pictures of Lily, is the story of a young woman’s quest to track down her birth parents. It was inspired in part by a journey to the Amazonia in Peru, where the author took part in shamanic workshops, which involved drinking Yage, the visionary ‘vine of the soul’. Francis King in The Spectator called it: “A feat of remarkable ventriloquism.” Paul Burston in The Financial Times said of it: “Matthew Yorke inhabits his teenage protagonist in a way that is utterly convincing. There isn’t a single false note.”

Matthew was the editor of the anthology of his grandfather’s Surviving: the Uncollected Works of Henry Green.

He now lives in London, where he mentors young children in creative writing alongside being a full time writer.



“I am going to find my parents... if I don't track them down I'll be one of the unlucky ones.”

So writes seventeen-year-old Lily Myers, for whom, adopted at birth, there are so many unanswered questions. Who are her biological parents? Does she have brothers and sisters? Where else might she have lived had if she not been given away? Most pressing is the simplest question of all: “Why was I given up?”

Pictures of Lily is wise and precise, cool and contemporary. You get to know about this girl, about the trials of adoption, about dub reggae and skunk weed. But mostly you get to know about the mysteries of belonging. The novel has a brilliantly inhabited female voice, and Matthew Yorke’s new novel will surely be among the best of the year. (Andrew O'Hagan)Brilliantly depicting the angst-ridden mind of a teen in turmoil. (Grazia)

By the end of the novel one is left horrified for Lily’s plight, and the lessons that she learns seem almost impossibly real.   (The Telegraph

BIBLIOGRAPHY: The March Fence, Viking, 1988; Chancing It, Waywiser Press, 2005; Pictures of Lily, Corsair, 2010.