Playwright Alan Ayckbourn launches his first novel at free event in Scarborough's Stephen Joseph Theatre

His first novel The Divide will be launched at the Stephen Joseph Theatre
His first novel The Divide will be launched at the Stephen Joseph Theatre

Playwright Alan Ayckbourn will launch his first-ever novel The Divide at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre on Thursday September 12.

Published by PS Publishing, The Divide is a fable that unflinchingly examines a dystopian society of brutal repression, forbidden love and seething insurrection.

The celebrated novelist Soween Clay-Flyn recalls a period in recent history based on documents of the time, including her own personal diary as a young girl who lived through it and survived to tell the tale.

In the aftermath of a deadly contagion which has decimated the population, contact between men and women has become fatal.

Under the dictates of an unseen authoritarian leader known as The Preacher, an unthinkable solution has been enforced.

Soween and her older brother Elihu grow up learning the ways of their tightly controlled society. Then to Soween's alarm, Elihu, as he reaches pubescence, risks not only fatal disease but also threatens to ignite a bloody revolution.

Alan Ayckbourn said: “This is a new experience for me. Eighty-three plays, God knows how many nerve-racking theatre press nights and now this. The very first book launch of my very first novel.

“Lord, the things you take on at 80.”

Nicky Crowther, of PS Publishing, said: “Straddling literary genres for almost a quarter century during which time we have championed work by some of the finest talents in the business, PS Publishing is proud to announce The Divide, the debut novel from Alan Ayckbourn, one of the world’s most gifted playwrights.”

The Divide will be launched at a free-to-attend event at the Stephen Joseph Theatre from 4.30pm to 6.30pm on September 12, in between performances of Alan’s two shows at the theatre this summer, Season’s Greetings, matinee, and Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present, evening.

The author will be on hand to sign copies of the book, which will be available at the event in a hardcover at £20 (discounted from £25); subsequently, a paperback and a signed slipcased hardcover will also be made available.

Originally written as a narrative for voices, The Divide was performed at the Stephen Joseph in 2015, then at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2017 and at London’s Old Vic in 2018.