Nell Dunn was born in 1936. She left school at the age of 14. Nell’s father didn’t believe that his daughters needed any qualifications, and wanted them to be completely original and unique.
In 1959 Dunn moved to Battersea, made friends there and worked, for a time, in a sweet factory. She came to notice with the publication of Up the Junction (1963), a series of short stories set in South London. The book, awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, was a controversial success at the time for its vibrant, realistic and non-judgmental portrait of young working-class women. It was adapted for television by Dunn and directed by Ken Loach, and broadcast in November 1965. A cinema film version was released in 1968.
Talking to Women (1965) was a collection of interviews with nine friends, including Edna O’Brien and Pauline Boty. Dunn’s novel, Poor Cow (1967) was a bestseller made into a film by Ken Loach starring Carol White and Terence Stamp. Her play Steaming was produced in 1981, winning awards both in the West End and on Broadway. A film was released in 1985, directed by Joseph Losey and starring Vanessa Redgrave and Diana Dors.