Reviews and endorsements

Reviews/endorsements for Katharine Quarmby’s work as an author, as well as in TV, print and as a writer of research reports.

Yokki and the Parno Gry; Ossiri and the Bala Mengro (Child’s Play International, 2016)

“This is a window onto a different culture and a reminder to have faith in imagination.” Super review by Nicolette Jones in the The Times and The Sunday Times Children’s Books Summer Reading!

Historical Novel Society on Ossiri and the Bala Mengro: Marion Rose reviewed it, writing: “This is a picture book where everything has been thought about, from the patterned end papers to the glossary that explains the sprinkling of unfamiliar words. It is beautiful to look at, and wonderful to read aloud. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is old enough to meet an ogre.”

Elizabeth Hawksley reviewed Yokki for the Historical Novel Society thus: “I loved learning about the Travelling life, what everyone did, and how they coped. It’s also a story about the power of the imagination to rise above the bad times and look forward to a better future. Children of 4-9 should love it.”

Leeds Gate, a Traveller charity, reviewed the books, with 11 year old Jerry Hanrahan writing:

“My name is Jerry Hanrahan, I am 11. I went to primary school except for most of the last year.  I’m hoping to go to high school in September. I read the books in our training room at Leeds GATE with my brother Billy crawling and exploring around us!

I read Parno Gry, it was quite easy for me to read, and I liked the story.  My favourite character was Yokki cos he told stories.  The worst bit was when Aunty couldn’t sell her flowers, I felt really disappointed for her.  The pictures were good.  I read half the other book, Ossiri and the Bala Mengro, but then my brother was making a lot of noise so Helen read through the rest.

I think these books would be best for children a little bit younger than me, say about nine.  I liked the stories being about Travellers and what was in the pictures. I think they should write more books. Thumbs up!”

A Country of Refuge (chapter), editor Lucy Popescu, (Unbound, 2016)

Samantha Ellis reviewed A Country of Refuge for
The Times Literary Supplement:

“Lucy Popescu’s A Country of Refuge is a collection of both fiction and non-fiction about refugees. A moving essay by Joan Smith about Anne Frank’s father’s attempts to seek asylum, comparing it to the story of Aylan (Alan) Kurdi, a victim of “the same depressingly bureaucratic response to refugees fleeing fascist regimes”, proves that empathy is not the preserve of fiction. Not every contribution earns its place. An excerpt from Rose Tremain’s story “The Beauty of the Dawn Shift” is not nearly as powerful as the whole original. It is also a little unclear why two pieces (neither new) by William Boyd about Ken Saro-Wiwa have been included, since Saro-Wiwa was never a refugee. But this book is full of powerful writing. Many of the best contributions come from writers who are refugees,
or second-generation refugees, themselves. Hassan Abdulrazzak describes an encounter with an RSPCA inspector who refuses to allow his Iraqi family a dog, and his realization that “it was going to be a long, hard struggle to learn all the rules of my new homeland”; Katharine Quarmby tenderly describes her mother’s induction into the mysteries of The Archers.”

 Aftermath, (Kindle Single, 2014)

Hamilton Wende, a South African writer, reviewed Aftermath, a short story published as  Kindle Single in 2014, thus: “I can strongly recommend this story for its authentic detail and moving plot. It is a real example of how one can take real life experiences and turn them into something more than autobiography, something universal that illuminates the human condition.”

Of another short story, The Priest, The Assassin and Archduke Ferdinand, Daniel Pembrey, bestselling author of The Candidate and The Harbour Master wrote: “Once again Katharine Quarmby reveals her talent for making the faraway feel vivid and familiar.”
No Place to Call Home: Inside the Real Lives of Gypsies and Travellers (Oneworld, 2013)

(shortlisted for the Bread and Roses Award)

‘Katharine Quarmby does an excellent job of teasing out the many nuances [of the situation for Gypsies and Travellers]… it is essential reading for anyone who wants to get beyond the flippant, homogenising headlines’

Literary Review

‘Meticulously researched… necessary and timely.’

The Tablet

‘With a keen sense of compassion and unwavering frankness, Katharine Quarmby breaks through rigid stereotypes and leads us into the communities that have remained for so long without a voice of their own.’

Oksana Marafioti, author of American Gypsy: A Memoir

‘An admirably measured and authoritative portrait of a diverse, isolated and often wilfully misunderstood minority… Wise, quietly incandescent [and] insightful.’


On Scapegoat: Why We Are Failing Disabled People (Portobello, 2011)

(Winner of the Ability Media International Award)

‘This is a stomach-turning book – but it must be read.’ – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times
‘In Scapegoat, Quarmby documents specific crimes in chilling detail puts them into the broader context of violence and prejudice against disabled people. I cannot imagine reading a more important book this year.’ Tom Shakespeare, Professor of Disability Research, University of East Anglia
‘Genuinely authoritative… Quarmby’s sobering conclusion is that there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way that disabled people are viewed by society as a whole.’ Paul Cockburn, Scotland on Sunday
‘Katharine Quarmby has studied the plight of disabled people in this country over the past century and gathered her findings into a fireball of a book… A shocking, challenging call to action.’ Alastair Mabbot, Herald

Research Reports

On Katharine’s report for Scope, Getting Away With Murder (2008) into disability hate crime:

Sir Ken Macdonald QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions: “I welcome the publication of this report into disability hate crime. It will help all of us who work in the Criminal Justice System to better understand the experiences of disabled people and to keep under review the way that we deal with instances of disability hate crime.”

Brendan Barber, Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary: “The TUC warmly welcomes this report. The same attitudes that encourage hate crime are also responsible for discrimination against disabled people trying to find or retain work, or to develop their careers.”

Stephen Brookes MBE, Chair, Disabled Members’ Council, National Union of Journalists (NUJ): “In welcoming the creation of this critically important report, the NUJ recognises the important role journalists play in ensuring that victims of disability hate crime are not dissuaded from reporting hate crime by the additional burden of intrusive or demeaning publicity.”

On Building Blocks, Katharine’s report on BSF for the think-tank, Policy Exchange:

Professor Alan Smithers, University of Buckingham: “The BSF programme has been crying out for investigation. It is not an investigation that has been welcomed by Partnerships for Schools, the delivery body. But Katharine Quarmby and Policy Exchange have fearlessly gone about their task of tracing the development of the programme and interviewing more than 50 senior figures connected with, and affected by, it. On the basis of the evidence they have uncovered, they reach some powerful conclusions and make positive recommendations. It is also a very good read.”


On Behind the Hatred, a three part series about the Middle East made by the BBC for the Discovery Channel (which Katharine co-produced):

New York Times, 2002: “Given the conflict’s deep divisions, aspects (of Behind the Hatred) are bound to displease all parties. But together their varied and independent focus provides a kind of balance for this unstable history.”

On the US version of Valentina’s Story, on which Katharine was the assistant producer and translator:

New York Times, 1997: ” ‘Valentina’s Nightmare’ is darkened with memories of parents, friends and babies stoned, clubbed and hacked to death in a four-day orgy..(a) strong BBC report”.


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