Back to all writers

Laura Fish

Laura Fish, penname of Laura Betton-Rodber, is the author of two novels, Flight of Black Swans (1995) and Strange Music (2008). Born in London in 1964 of Caribbean parents, she was adopted by a white English couple. She studied for the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, has worked for BBC television and radio and has taught creative writing at St Andrews University, the University of Western Cape, the University of East Anglia, and Newcastle University.

In 2007 she obtained a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from East Anglia; her second novel, Strange Music, formed the creative component to her thesis. While Flight of Black Swans is set in Kimberley, North-Western Australia, Strange Music is set between 1837-1840 in England and Jamaica and focuses on the life of the family of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, through the eyes of the as yet unmarried poet and of two black women on the family’s plantation in Jamaica. Fish has also contributed to In Search of Belonging: Reflections of Transracially Adopted People (ed. Perlita Harris, 2006), an anthology commissioned by the British Association of Fostering and Adoption.

She is the recipient of the 2000 Seth Donaldson Memorial Award (School of English and American Studies, University of East Anglia) and the 2001 Society of Women Writers and Journalists Award. Her work in progress has received support from the Society of Authors (in 1997 and 2000), the International Retreat for Writers at Hawthornden Castle, Edinburgh (1998) and the Arts Council. In 2008 Strange Music was longlisted for the Orange Prize and nominated for the 2009 International IMPAC Dublin Award. She is currently working on a third novel that draws on her experience of living in South Africa.


Brown, Helen. “Helen Brown on a fictional portrait of Elisabeth Barret Browning.” Rev. of Strange Music, by Laura Fish. The Telegraph 9 Aug. 2008. Web. 1 Nov. 2013.

Fish, Laura. Flight of Black Swans. London: Duckworth, 1995. Print.

. Black Fish in a White Sea” and “Letter to My Self.” In Search of Belonging: Reflections by Transracially Adopted People. Ed. Perlita Harris. London, BAAF, 2006. Print.

. “Strange Music: Engaging Imaginatively with the Family of Elizabeth Barrett Browning from a Creole and Black Woman’s Perspective.” Victorian Poetry 44.4 (2006): 507-524.

. Strange Music. London: Jonathan Cape, 2008. Print.

. Strange Music and The Black Woman in the Mirror: Reflections on a Literary History. Diss. U of East Anglia, 2006. The British Library EthOS. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.

Heilmann, Ann, and Mark Lewellyn. “Voices Across Borders: Laura Fish's Strange Music (2008).”  Neo-Victorianism: The Victorians in the Twenty-First Century, 1999-2009. Palgrave Macmillan. 81-91. Print.

Lowry, Elisabeth. “On the Shadow Side.” Rev. of Strange Music, by Laura Fish. The Times Literary Supplement 5495 (2008): 19. 

Novak, Julia. “The Notable Woman in Fiction: Novelistic Afterlives of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.” Biographical Fiction, special issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 31.1: 83-107.

Oyeyemi, Helen. “Of Human Bondage: Helen Oyeyemi on Stories of Slavery that Refuse  Tragedy its Utter Darkness.” Rev. of Strange Music by, Laura Fish. The Guardian 2 Aug. 2008. Web. 1 Nov. 2013.

Procter, James. “Laura Fish.” British Council Literature: Writers. 2008. Web. 13 March 2013.

“Round-up: Fiction.” Rev. of Strange Music, by Laura Fish. The Scotsman 26 July 2008. Web. 1 Nov. 2013.

Stone, Marjorie. “Elizabeth Barrett Browning.” Victorian Poetry 46.3 (2008) 313-15. Print.

Stuart, Adrea. “The poet, the plantation and history’s lost lines.” Rev. of Strange Music, by Laura Fish. The Independent 8 Aug. 2008. Web. 1 Nov. 2013.