Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile by Adelle Stripe


Adelle Stripe’s Black teeth and a brilliant smile is the fictional biography of Andrea Dunbar, a young playwright from the Buttershaw estate in Bradford who died from a brain haemorrhage in 1990 at the age of 29.

In school, Careers advice told her she “ could be a shop assistant, mill worker, nanny or hairdresser. “But I like writing. It’s the only thing I’m good at.” she said. “There’s no jobs for writers in Bradford” “At least, I knew where I stood.”

Her talent for writing was discovered by the English and Drama teacher. He told her to write about what she knows. “I already have pads full of writing at home” she says.    In his class she wrote a play for her CSE and got an A grade. This will become The Arbor, later a sell-out play in the Royal Court Theatre in London and in New York.

When she was 18 she wrote Rita, Sue and Bob too which was made into a film in 1987. All her plays, including her last one, Shirley, depicted life on a council estate in the Thatcher era. Andrea wrote about what she knew, without sentiment or judgement but with great humour. She said “I’ve got to see how I want to see it, And not as they do. I need that. My view, not their view…”

She comes across as a cheerful, blunt, hard-working, talented and funny young girl, trying her best to live and write on a working-class estate in 1970s Britain.

Adelle Stripe paints a portrait that is true to its subject, her family and the Buttershaw Estate she loved and depicted in her plays.


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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