MF 2011

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Martin Foreman

Copyright of pictures acknowledged where possible

Bookseller, writer, theatre director and occasional actor, working in London and Edinburgh.

My bookselling business - Arbery Books- specialises in old and rare gay, lesbian and transgender books and ephemera, antiquarian (pre-1900) curiosities and erotica, and old and rare science-fiction and fantasy.

As a writer of fiction, I have published two novels and two collections of short stories. One of my novels - The Butterfly's Wing - was published in the UK, US and Taiwan. For twenty years my main income came from research and publication of articles, booklets and books examining the social causes and consequences of HIV/AIDS in the developing world. Some of that archive can be found here. For a few years in the mid 2000s I wrote mostly on atheism. My current writing interests are the theatre - see below - and the issues around the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence.

I began writing for the stage in 2012, to generally good reviews. Productions in 2013 included Californian Lives ("a beautifully perceptive production" "four stars" "utterly convincing portraits of love") and Tadzio Speaks . . ., based on the classic novel and film Death in Venice, which I also directed ("eloquent and descriptive prose"). In March 2014 I directed Angel and Now We Are Pope, a double bill of one-man plays at the London Theatre, featuring Christopher Annus and Christopher Peacock. ("four stars" "captivating plays" "engaging and expressive performances" "wonderfully believable characters"). These will be included in Desire and Pursuit - three one-man plays with the same actors at the Etcetera Theatre, London, in July 2014 and the Edinburgh Fringe in August.

I act occasionally - most recently in Seth Jones' Clouds of Grey at the Park Studio in London (May 2013), and in the forthcoming short film Innocence. I tend to be offered roles as criminals and psychopaths, which explains such reviews as "suitably unnerving, and at times completely terrifying" (The Stage on my role as a bodyguard in The Duchess of Malfi). My next performance will be in A Man Who Lost His Mind, at the White Bear Theatre in South London, on 13 and 14 April.

This website focuses on my fiction, travel and opinion writing, with extracts from recent pieces below. My theatre work can be found on My atheist writing is on

Whether or not I would have to show my passport on leaving Berwick, independence would make me a foreigner in a country I once called home. Which country that will be, I do not yet know; I wait for Alex Salmond’s pronouncement as to whether I should be considered an alien on Princes Street or Piccadilly.

Independent-minded Scot

What remains is a nasty smell in the air. Firstly it is the smell of hypocrisy, that HuffPo will make use of an individual's valuable capital (her time and intellectual input) to make money for itself, not for her. Secondly, there is the smell of - is it hypocrisy again? I'm not sure - HuffPo offering me choice between censorship (my comment will not be posted) or
invasion of my electronic privacy (my comment will be posted only if I allow it to invade my privacy).

HuffPo hypocrisy

The depiction of love depends on the gradual unfolding of the lovers' characters and of glimpses of the inner beauty and mystery that attracts each to the other. It depends on quiet moments that allow both the individuals on the stage and the audience watching to reflect on what they see. It depends on subtle gestures and expressions that allow us to intuit ideas and emotions without words. At only one point in the play does Chandler understand the value of silence - and it is then
that Sandel briefly reaches into our souls. But the moment is quickly disposed of and the banter returns, reminding us that we are being offered laughter not love, caricatures not portraits, superficiality not depth.

Sandel at the Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Meantime, there's Facebook and Twitter. I'm not a fan of these media, but they have to be used and after several years of FB and one of Twitter I'm still not sure if I am using them to my best ability. They are both theoretically a means of communication, but communication implies a communicator and a communicatee - someone giving out information and someone else receiving and acting on that information. The reality appears to be that there are far more communicators than communicatees, giving the impression that both FB and Tw are gigantic storms of noise where everybody is so busy shouting at each other that they can't hear what anyone else is saying.

Sometimes you sit, watch the trains, the sunset, the rain.

Sometimes you talk. Tell your story if you've a mind to. Trouble is, memory changes things. Things you want to forget. Things you want to remember that never happened. Happens to everybody. Gets so, nobody's story's true. Not yours, not mine. But it's all we've got.

First and Fiftieth

Brothers, I thought, seeing a resemblance.

But the family names were different. And unlike the other vaults and sepulchres, this monument had no overarching sign indicating that it belonged to a single family.

Nikolas and Nikos

We are drawn deeper and deeper into the lives of these two young men,

finding ourselves in turn irritated and empathising with each youth’s moodiness. We silently call out to Jonathan to stop sulking – until we understand why he sulks. We are embarrassed by Shane’s aggression – until we understand what drives it. We watch the two of them come together in the wrong way and at the wrong time and wonder how this ménage à trois will end.

Eternal Summer

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