My name is Samuel Adamson and this is The Essence of the Thing – the name taken from Madeleine St John’s Booker Prize-shortlisted novel of 1997.

I’m a freelance writer – largely a playwright. To read about some of the things I’ve done and am doing, please visit my Writers’ Guild page. I’m represented by Katie Haines at The Agency. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter/X, but my Instagram and Threads handle is @samueladamsonwriter; my Instagram is here. Some of my published plays are here.

Every second Sunday or so, I publish a newsletter about a twentieth-century novel. The novel is usually by a British or Australian writer, perhaps not particularly well-known, often by a woman, often LGBT, and so on.

I also ramble into other literary and theatrical areas.

The essence of the thing in St John’s wonderful novel is the balance between the bitter and the sweet: with marmalade as with everything else, a matter of personal taste.

There are piles of unread novels in my house, many of them well-known. We often say, ‘To my shame I haven’t read …’, but I no longer feel shame or guilt about it: a book’s time will come, or it won’t.

This is a regular reflection on some old book whose time, for me, happens to have come.

It’s free to sign up to The Essence of the Thing, and if you do, every new edition of the newsletter goes directly to your inbox.

I love to engage with other readers, so please reply to the newsletter if you fancy it, or comment in the comment box under the posts.

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Thanks for reading!


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I'm a playwright who writes about twentieth-century novels. They are usually British, Australian, lesser-known, by women, LGBT, and so on. I also ramble into other literary and theatrical areas.


Samuel Adamson

Playwright who writes about novels. Agent: Katie Haines @ www.theagency.co.uk.