Scottish writer, journalist and academic Brian W Lavery was born in Glasgow’s East End, the fourth of six sons. His father William was a sheet metal worker and his mother Margaret a shop assistant.
Brian has been a factory worker, car valet, market trader, waiter, university dropout, VAT officer (very briefly) and latterly a journalist, university tutor and writer.
He spent more than 30 years in journalism before undertaking a first-class joint honours degree (English and Creative Writing) and a doctorate in creative writing at Hull.
He held top-level posts on several national and international newspapers, was news editor of two regional papers and edited three weekly papers early in his career – at one point he was the country’s youngest newspaper editor.
He has also worked in broadcasting, media relations, speech writing and magazines.
His prose includes the books The Luckiest Thirteen (Barbican Press, 2017) and The Headscarf Revolutionaries (Barbican Press, 2015), the latter of which gave rise to the song cycle 12 Silk Handkerchiefs written by radical musician Reg Meuross with whom Brian toured the UK as narrator and scriptwriter, backed by Arts Council (England) along with other leading exponents of folk music from Hull – Mick McGarry and Sam Martyn.
The Headscarf Revolutionaries was optioned by acclaimed British director Mark Herman (Brassed Off, Little Voice, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, et al).
The Headscarf Revolutionaries also featured in the BBC4 documentary, Hull’s Headscarf Heroes (dir. Steve Humphries, 2018) – to which Brian contributed – and has been highlighted in two Radio 4 documentaries and two programmes on the BBC World Service in which he also took part.
That book has also inspired poetry by Helen Mort and a further musical album from Hull-based songwriter Joe Solo. Brian has also featured as writer/presenter on BBC Radio Four’s Four Thought series.
The Oxford University National Dictionary of Biography – ‘the biographer’s Bible’– commissioned him to write the entry on Lillian Bilocca. Planet Publications (Wales) and Obliterati Press have published his short fiction over the years and Other Poetry, About Larkin, Larkin Press and Umber and others have published his poetry.
In August 2020 Dr Lavery received the City of Kingston upon Hull Lord Mayor’s Civic Crown Award for his services to preserving his adopted city’s heritage.
In September 2020 some of his poetry was published in Viral Verses alongside other leading writers such as Ian McMillan and Mike Harding to raise funds for NHS charities.
As well as lecturing in creative writing and journalism at the University of Leeds Lifelong Learning Centre, Brian is writer-in-residence at Hull Kingston Rovers rugby league club’s charitable trust, where he runs free community writing classes.
He also regularly writes features for national and regional papers and is a regular features contributor to Fishing News.
He has lived in his adoptive city of Hull for more than 40 years and is married to Kath. They have two grown-up daughters, Catriona and Rose, a grandson, William – and a mad cat called Badger.