Storytelling in Autoethnography - The Poetess

Research output: Contributions to conferencesPaper



The Poetess started out in 1983 as incidental music for a theatre production about the poet Sylvia Plath which was never actually performed. In the meantime I had a brief career as a composer/performer, entered into a marriage which resulted in me giving up music altogether, worked in IT for many years, and finally returned to composition.

As part of my PhD I revisited the music and decided to reinvent it with a new semi-autobiographical script of my own, and created a 50 minute music theatre piece which was premiered at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2016.

The Poetess struggles against early trauma and the oppressive restrictions of her environment in search of self determination. Gradually it ceases to be a struggle for a satisfactory relationship and becomes a struggle for survival.

By presenting elements of my own story as fiction I seek to connect with women’s experiences and promote a discussion around the difficulties they encounter in society.

In this paper I will describe how The Poetess came to be created and performed, how it was received at the premiere, and how it will function as part of my authoethnography, connecting with the wider experience of women composers. I will also discuss the role of creative and imaginative work as a part of the discipline of autoethnography and explain why I think it is a valid way to communicate in this area of research.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 17 Apr 2018
EventBeyond 'Mesearch': Autoethnography, self-reflexivity, and personal experience as academic research in music studies - Institute of Musical Research, Senate House, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 Apr 201817 Apr 2018


ConferenceBeyond 'Mesearch': Autoethnography, self-reflexivity, and personal experience as academic research in music studies
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

Author keywords

  • autoethnography, Composition