Isabelle Grey

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Isabelle Grey

Crime novelist and screenwriter Isabelle Grey writes books under the name of VB Grey. She was born in London and grew up in Manchester. The city’s history of radicalism, her school (once attended by the Pankhurst sisters), university college (a pioneer of further education for women) and being a young teenager in the late 1960s all combined to encourage her to dream of following in the footsteps of Joan Didion, Hunter S Thompson, Tom Wolfe and other trail-blazing New Journalists.

She got as far as writing a book about the punk movement, and then got side-tracked into writing about 19th and 20th design for The Times’ Collecting column before emerging as a feature writer and reviewer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines in the UK and in America.

An introduction to the producer of the landmark BBC adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy led to a commission for an original TV drama series. She found screenwriting even more exciting than journalism, and a long career in fiction has followed.

But she still wishes she’d been a gonzo BBC foreign correspondent in Washington.

Interviewed 25 September 2021

Ten words to sum up your working life to date ...


Nine things you can see from where you're sitting ...

Computer screen
Mug of green tea
A faded cardboard pen-holder my daughter gave me when she was little
Books from every period of my life
A sofa that badly needs re-upholstering
Richly decorated pots by an old friend, Janice Tchalenko, who is sadly no longer with us
Nasturtiums I grew from seed on my windowsill
Rear Window-style glimpses of the lives of my opposite neighbours

Eight minutes to prepare a meal. What's it going to be ?

Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon on toast and a glass of red wine.

Seven people you'd like to go for a drink with ...

Assuming they can be living or dead:
Billy Wilder
Howard Hawks
Barbara Stanwyck
Robert Mitchum
John le Carré
Reece Witherspoon
Peter Morgan
(I’d be a fly on the wall)

Six things you can't live without ...

My family
Long walks
TV box sets
The news

Five favourite words ...

It’ll be a triumph

Four places you'd run away to ...

Camber Sands
Hampstead Heath
Crathes Castle gardens
Gibbes beach, Barbados

Three books you've bought recently ...

Actress by Anne Enright
On Chapel Sands by Laura Cumming
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

Two things that make you rant ...

Only two? Don’t get me started.

One thing you'd tell your teenage self ...

Don’t wait for permission