Kit de Waal on race, class – and her exceedingly cool hair! - THE SHIFT REVISITED

Over the Christmas period and into January I'm going to be replaying some of my quiet favourite episodes of 2022. This week is the brilliantly outspoken author Kit de Waal. This episode first aired in July.


Today’s guest is the award-winning writer, Kit De Waal. Until she was 21, Kit had never read a book voluntarily. But once she started there was no stopping her. Kit started writing in her mid-40s and published her award-winning debut, My Name Is Leon, at 56. Since then she has used her success to work tirelessly to promote the voices of working class writers. Using some of her advance to set up the Kit de Waal Creative Writing Fellowship (aka the Fat Chance scholarship!) and editing Common People, an anthology of working class writing.

Now she’s turned her attention to her own childhood. Her memoir, Without Warning And Only Sometimes, is the story of growing up in poverty, one of five children with a Black father and Irish mother who brought them up Jehovah’s Witness…

Kit joined me from possibly the most envy-inducing workroom I’ve ever ogled via zoom (and I’ve ogled a few!) to talk being single and reclaiming your own space at 60. We discussed race, class, privilege, the impact of a childhood spent not stepping on the cracks and why she hates that “fucking overused word resilience”. Plus why she’s not interested in a man on the downward slide, being a Tuesday friend and her exceedingly cool hair

* You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at, including Without Warning And Only Sometimes by Kit de Waal and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me!

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The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Emily Sandford. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.

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