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Susan Noble

A Flock of Blackbirds


About the book

A Flock of Blackbirds is a selection of short stories and novellas written by Susan Noble, who died in 1974 at the age of 31. Susanís output of fiction and poetry in the final ten years of her life was prolific and to mark the fortieth anniversary of her death, the stories in this volume are being published in hardback, paperback and Kindle for the first time, along with four volumes of her poetry, The Dream of Stairs: A Poem Cycle; Inside the Stretch of My Heart; Before and After the Darkness; and Collected Poems, as well as her novel, Drifting Between Empty Tramlines.

Many of the stories in A Flock of Blackbirds are triggered by the quotidian experience of living and working in central London in the late 1960s and early 1970s, yet beneath the fragile surface of her acute observations of domestic and office life in the city, intensely spiritual insights are being played out, sometimes delicately, some-times shockingly, but always movingly.

All proceeds from the sale of this book
will be donated to three charities:    

  • Mind
  • Samaritans
  • Sane 

  • About the author

    Brought up in South London, Susan Noble, was the second of three children. Her childhood was enriched by being part of a large and closely-knit Jewish family. Unfortunately stricken by polio (then known as infantile paralysis) in her early years, Susan went through life with a degree of physical handicap which she was to overcome with courage and determination.

    Educated at Croydon High School, Susan studied English at Somerville College, Oxford. After graduating, Susan worked in London, first at the Royal National Institute for the Blind, dictating books for transcription into Braille, and later at the National Central Library in London, where she qualified as a Chartered Librarian.

    Susanís exceptional sensitivity was reflected in the prolific outpouring of poems that make up Before and After the Darkness, Inside the Stretch of My Heart and The Dream of Stairs. In these intense, haunting poems, she chronicles her personal response to the world around her, while vividly portraying the inner landscape of her mental and emotional struggle.

    Oneís first impression of Susan was of fragility. She was an acutely sensitive person, but her physical and emotional fragility really masked a very great spiritual strength. Her sensitivity indeed was not directed only towards herself, but towards others. She was sensitive to the needs of others, and her strength and also perhaps some of her inner conflicts came from a deep desire for goodness which could not be matched in reality by the world as she found it.

    Susan passionately wished to be independent; she struggled for it from the time she went to university, and throughout her work as a librarian, and she was able to maintain it to the very end. There was an intellectual and emotional intensity which burned within her and which predominantly found outward expression in her writing and when she expressed herself thus she did so with great imaginative power and also with an uncompromising honesty and integrity.

    Rabbi Dr David Goldstein

    Sample manuscripts from A Flock of Blackbirds

    A Chateau in Summer
    The Message
    Ruth (from 'The Train Journey')
    The Seder

    A Chateau in Summer - first three manuscript pages
    A Flock of Blackbirds, p. 125

    The Message - first three manuscript pages
    A Flock of Blackbirds, p. 175

    Ruth (from 'The Train Journey')
    Section originally titled 'The Wedding'
    A Flock of Blackbirds, p. 32)

    The Seder - first three manuscript pages
    A Flock of Blackbirds, p. 165

    Books by Susan Noble