Dana Bagshaw

Dana Bagshaw



Dana Bagshaw is a playwright and historical novelist.

She grew up in the USA but was Leicester-based for 18 years. She wrote several plays while working with young people in the Guiding Lights Theatre group she founded in Leicestershire. Her adult playCell Talk, set in Medieval England, won the Radius 2000 competition and has received seven different productions in the UK and the US, the most recent being Summer 2011 byCameo, a touring group from Cambridge. In Leicester she also completed two historical novels primarily set in Oklahoma calledMama Grace (2006) and Running From Grace (2011). Now back in the United States, she is working on the third novel of the series, Facing Grace, as well as a new play about African asylum seekers, based on interviews she held while still in Leicester.

Creative Work

From Running From Grace

Summer of 1928 came and Victor got the job at Mr. Marconi’s drugstore on Grand Avenue, working nights as a curb hop, taking soda fountain drinks and ice cream to customers parked along the sidewalk.            

One evening some bullies followed Victor into the store taunting him. Mr. Marconi pulled him aside.

“Vic, if you take garbage like that - from guys like that - you won’t be able to hold your head up anywhere.”

“But I thought I might get fired if I fought on the job.”

“Not when your honor is at stake.” Marconi turned to the other boys, “Looking for a fight? All right, you can have it. Out on the sidewalk all of you.”The kerbside customers got more than they paid for. Victor faced the first boy and slapped him on his right cheek, open-handed.

The boy went down, bouncing off a car fender.

“Hey, what's this?” yelled a second boy.

“If Vic had hit him with his fist,” Marconi retorted, “his face would have been hamburger.” He tossed Victor a pair of soft-leather driving gloves. “Right. If the big guy here wants fists, let him have them.”

The second guy came forward waving his fists back and forth before Victor’s face while he put on the gloves. Once on, he looked up and calmly hooked with a right to the boy’s exposed side, followed by his Sunday punch, a whistling left hook. The boy fell to the sidewalk.

“Go get some smelling salts!” Marconi yelled.

The third boy, with long wet black hair, decided to retreat. But he didn’t get far. Victor caught him by the hair, swung him around and delivered a sharp one-two combination and the final contestant was in a heap against a car.

Marconi lifted Victor’s hand high, turning him about to face his cheering supporters.           

The next night even more customers came to the kerb. By the end of the week, business had doubled.



When I first moved to Leicester 20 years ago, I became so focused on learning the new language I encountered, with its different vocabulary and array of accents, that I lost my writer’s voice. Finally I fixed on two Anglo-Saxon heroines with a joy of discovering voices that pre-dated the American emigration and managed to write Cell Talk, followed by Hilda, Daughter of Woden.           

But with the approach of the Oklahoma Centennial in 2007, my American roots tugged me back to face new challenges. Mama Grace is based on an unpublished novel by my grandmother who crossed the plains in a covered wagon in 1907with her mother, Grace, and four siblings. Running From Grace picks up the story in the 1920s from a very different viewpoint, that of my great uncle, the youngest of Grace’s brood of ten children. In his eyes Mama Grace morphs from gutsy heroine to nasty villainess.
To freshen my ear for Okie talk, I had to make several research trips to Oklahoma. Leicester Writers’ Club kept me sane during this time. The Club taught me the value of feedback from fellow authors, prompting me to start a new group in my current hometown of Santa Cruz, California.


Cell Talk, A duologue between Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe, Radius, London, 2002
Hilda, Daughter of Woden, Aware Publications, Leicester, 2008

Mama Grace, Evans Publications, Barnsdall, OK, 2006
Running From Grace, Fast Pencil, Campbell, CA, 2011


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