Return of Bradford’s Bad Lass

Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile

Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile, Wrecking Ball Press, 2017

My debut novel, Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile, has been published by Wrecking Ball Press. It is shortlisted for the 2017 Gordon Burn Prize and received the K Blundell Trust Award for Fiction. The first edition has a foil-press cover, pink end-papers, and is limited to 1000 copies.

You can order copies via your local bookseller or through the following outlets: Wrecking Ball Press, Caught by the River, Hebden Bridge Book Case, Salts Mill Bookshop, News from Nowhere, Waterstones, Guardian BookshopFoyles, Colours May Vary or Amazon.

Here’s the official blurb.


Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile

by Adelle Stripe

“You write what’s said, you don’t lie. Or say it didn’t happen when it did all the time…”

Inspired by the life and work of the Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar, Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile is a slice of kitchen sink noir that tells Dunbar’s story in print for the very first time. Featuring a cast of real and imagined characters, it is the result of four years’ painstaking research that has unearthed the hidden story of one of the North’s most enigmatic cultural figures. It is a tale of the north / south divide that reveals how a shy teenage girl defied the circumstances she was born into to become one of West Yorkshire’s greatest dramatists.

Set in the Thatcher era, it maps the extraordinary rise of a young woman from the Buttershaw estate, who is discovered via a Women’s Aid refuge. She is propelled into the London theatre establishment and an adapted screenplay of two of her early plays brings her wealth, accolades and notoriety, while raising three young children as a single mother.

Rita, Sue and Bob Too! is a national scandal upon its release, and its tagline ‘Thatcher’s Britain with Her Knickers Down’ ensures it is a box office sensation. Fame brings anxiety however, and Dunbar is unable to cope with the media attention, pressures of family life and writer’s block. She slowly succumbs to the pitfalls of drink and spends her last days in her local pub The Beacon, where she completes her final script based on a gang of unscrupulous debt collectors. In 1990, aged 29, she collapses from a fatal brain hemorrhage.

As one of the most important writers of her generation, this remarkably stubborn ‘genius straight from the slums’ recorded the everyday realities of working-class life. Dunbar’s unflinching autobiographical plays included themes of domestic violence, underage sex, poverty, racism, alcoholism and the declining status of men. By using frank and expletive-ridden dialogue she created a no-holds-barred account of the underclass composed in the tradition of social realism.

A bittersweet literary depiction, Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile explores a world whose themes are more relevant today than ever. It marks the arrival of one of the UK literary underground’s best kept secrets.



  • Pages : 182
  • Language : English
  • Publisher : Wrecking Ball Press
  • ISBN : 978-1-903110-56-0
  • Released : First Edition / 1st July 2017
  • Distributor : InPress


Press Reviews ~

Guardian: “Snaps and prickles and brings a talented, troubled woman to life. Dunbar’s energy and mischief bubble in the bleakness.”

New Statesman: “Stripe’s dialogue has a natural quickness and the glimpses inside Dunbar’s head are all the more powerful for being so sparingly deployed.”

Backlisted: “It’s a bloody great book.”

Morning Star: “Fresh and impressive. She is the natural inheritor of Nell Dunn, sensibly eschewing symbolism in favour of a grubbier, jagged economy of expression. A quiet precise genius informs every page.”

Bookmunch: “Expertly captures the rhythm and cadences of Bradford.

“Caught by the River (Book of the Month): “An elegant, loving, powerful book.”

Loud & Quiet: “Dunbar’s story, every bit as gritty and startling as that of her characters, is captured expertly here. This is an extraordinary book made all the more impressive in being the author’s debut novel.”

Minor Literatures: “In the tradition of authors such as Gordon Burn, Stripe’s novel incorporates real and fictional characters to create a portrait of great emotional depth.”

Yorkshire Post: “Stitched together from letters and scripts, newspaper cutting and fractured memory, it is an undeniably harsh, yet fair portrait of one of the UK’s most original voices.”



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