Richard McNeff was born in London. His father was an actor. His mother is a poet. After graduating from Sussex
University he lived in Barcelona, Amsterdam and the Basque Country, finally settling on Ibiza where he stayed for
several years. During this time, he wrote songs and poetry, ran a language school and assisted the renowned sculptor Barry
He currently lives in London, where he has had articles featured in The Guardian, Wormwood and the Fortean Times. His first
book, Sybarite among the Shadows, is a novel where magicians rub shoulders with spies in bohemian London of the
thirties. His second, With Barry Flanagan: Travels through Time and Spain, is an intimately anecdotal memoir of the late
sculptor’s life and work; predominantly centred around Ibiza. Now comes his highly- acclaimed novel, Disorders of the Pleasure
Centre, where, “In a headlong rush across two millennia we are transported back and forth between the hedonistic pleasure palaces of
Emperor Nero and the anarchic party scene of present-day Ibiza."
See 'A Reduction of Invertigo', the lost appendix of With Barry Flanagan, now featured on Barry Flanagan's page.
Love, revenge, murder, mind-bending drugs and time travel weave an irresistible web of intrigue in this surreal romp down the ages.
In a headlong rush across two millennia we are transported back and forth between the hedonistic pleasure palaces of Emperor Nero and the anarchic party scene of present-day Ibiza. Add a heady brew of Christian martyrdom, alcoholism and aphrodisiacs and we have all the ingredients for a remarkable psychodrama.
From the moment he stumbles across a tomb containing a skeleton and three mysterious Latin scrolls, classical scholar Mark Compayne becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth about Nero’s inner circle. He finds himself swept back in time and even taking part in the misdeeds of ancient Rome.
As the story unfolds, he realises that this tale of treachery disturbingly mirrors his own life. For him, once he’s unlocked the greatest secret of the ancient world, things can never be the same again…
I thought the book impeccably researched. In fact I was full of admiration for the way that details of the period were worked into the narrative with complete naturalness. The finer points of dress, custom, social and military organisation were all handled extremely well. The prose itself is fluent and expressive and can go from ironic observation to a vein of poetry.
Barry Unsworth (Booker Prize winner 1992
With Barry Flanagan: Travels through Time and Spain
With Barry Flanagan is a vivid account of a friendship that evolved into a working relationship when Richard McNeff became ‘spontaneous fixer’ (Flanagan’s description) of the sculptor’s show held in June 1992 at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Ibiza, where they were both living. McNeff was to gain a privileged insight into the sculptor’s singular personality and eccentric working methods, learning to decipher his memorably surreal turns of phrase and to parry his fascinating, if at times unsettling, pranksteresque quirks.
In September 1992 Flanagan and McNeff took the show to Majorca, resulting a lively visit to the celebrated Spanish artist Miquel Barceló. The following year McNeff was involved in Flanagan’s print-making venture in Barcelona and in his Madrid retrospective. Flanagan rescued him from a rough landing in England in 1994 by commissioning a tour of stone quarries there. Subsequently McNeff ran into a fourteen-year-old profoundly deaf girl who turned out to be his unknown daughter. She had a talent for art and the generous sculptor was instrumental in helping with her studies.
Late in 2008 Barry was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. By June 2009 he was wheelchair-bound. Two months later he died, and McNeff read the lesson at his funeral. Fleshed out with biographical detail, much of it supplied by the sculptor himself, supplemented by photographs and details of the work, this touching memoir is the first retrospective of a major Welsh-born artist. With Barry Flanagan captures the spirit of this remarkable Merlinesque figure in a moving portrait that reveals a true original.
ISBN: 978 1 84351 322 3 - hardback (also in Kindle) - The Lilliput Press
It is a very personal and often hilarious recollection of McNeff's support of Flanagan...a compelling portrait of this great artist.
Barbara Dawson: Irish Arts Review
This book is chock full of 'Flanagan anecdotes' and as a reader I felt like I was being let in on a secret of these bohemian artists who had lived in Ibiza and their hippy and boozy lives. It is a fascinating account and whether you are familiar with Flanagan's artistic work or not, this is an extremely interesting biography which is a great read that will leave you more knowledgeable about the artist as well as entertained by the stories.
The Dublin Duchess (http://dublinduchess.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/with-barry-flanagantravels-through-time.html)
SYBARITE AMONG THE SHADOWS Dylan Thomas, Aleister Crowley and Victor Neuburg caught in a surrealist web. What if the Beast returnedand you were not sure if he were the best or worst thing that had ever happened to you? Sybarite among the Shadows finds Victor Neuburg on June 11 1936 with the poet he discovered, Dylan Thomas. They embark on a quest whose object is Neuburg's old master, the Great Beast 666; settings, the Surrealist Exhibition, and pubs and clubs of bohemian London; characters, Augustus John, Nina Hamnett and Tom Driberg. Neuburg confronts his demons; Crowley does too. They also meet something far more menacing: MI5's plot to avert the Abdication.
McNeff's book is so different from anything you usually find on a bookshelf that it should perhaps be a compulsory purchase...shines a flickering light on the British avant-garde.
The Independent on Sunday
Probably the finest modern novel featuring Aleister Crowley...
Aleister Crowley as himself in all his occult and charismatic glory - a manipulative, overbearing, bizarre yet compelling character. Fiction could hardly have invented him: he is a gift of a character to any novelist & Richard McNeff has accepted him, unwrapped the parcel and given him his head.
Martin Booth (Booker Prize shortlisted 1998: author of A Magick Life: A Biography of Aleister Crowley)
(http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sybarite-Among-Shadows-Aleister-Surrealist/dp/1869928822/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1366140053&sr=8-3&keywords=richard+mcneff Sybarite for Kindle @ amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sybarite-Among-the-Shadows-ebook/dp/B0077D8YVU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1340786762&sr=1-1 also at @ amazon.com)
For more about Sybarite and writings on Crowley and Neuburg
Miquel Barceló i Barry Flanagan. Cerámiques i Dibuxos
Enrique Juncosa and Richard McNeff
Publisher: MACE, Ajuntament D'Eivissa, Ibiza
Miquel Barceló and Barry Flanagan, Ceramics and Drawings, published to coincide with the exhibition of the two artists' work at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Ibiza 27 of April to 31 October 2012. Contains my account of the artists' first meeting in English, Spanish and Catalan.
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Wordlore and ELT
Richard McNeff snr - Actor
Lynne Munn - Poet
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