Freelance profile

Susan Wolk (Wolk Words)

Experienced feature writer, magazine launch editor, commissioning editor and proofreader/sub-editor for many years for national newspapers, airline and consumer magazines (especially food & travel sector.) Also experienced in PR as an adviser, project manager and writer of press releases. Qualified teacher with experience of teaching journalism. Member of the Guild of Food Writers, Currently specialising in social affairs topics, charity annual reports and business profiles of high achievers. Founder/co-ordinator of food and film festival – do visit

* Click here to see sample photos

Contact details:

Region/nation: London
Country: United Kingdom
Telephone: 020 7229 9153


See suggested rates:

Feature writerRates: Print media
Online journalismRates: Online/writing
Commissioning editorRates: Print media
ProofreaderRates: Sub-editing
Subeditor or editorRates: Sub-editing
Public RelationsRates: PR
from the Freelance Fees Guide.


  • Architecture
  • Health and fitness
  • Business and commerce
  • Celebrities
  • Charity/voluntary sector
  • Environment and conservation
  • Film and theatre
  • Food and drink
  • Property
  • Travel/tourism

Major clients:

  • Guardian
  • Financial Times
  • Commission for Architecture and the Built Environm
  • IDEA Knowledge website
  • Tavistock Institute of Human Relations

Profile last updated: 2008-04-28 00:58:20

Extra information:


FROM HEGEL PHILOSOPHER TO ELDERFLOWER FARMERWhy swap academia for agriculture? Published Financial  Times w/e supplement

 It’s mid-June and it’s 10 o’clock in the morning. A flock of naturalised Indian parakeet are circling above, punctuating the peaceful azure skies with their squawks. Six feet or so above the ground, coronation upon coronation of delicate, creamy flower heads provide a pleasing foil to the spear-shaped lime-green foliage – stretching as far as the eye can see. Best of all, a sweet, heady, citrus fragrance suffuses our nostrils with every pleasurable draught.  Who would have thought that paradise could be found not in the midst of the remote countryside but bang in the middle of the stockbroker belt – deepest Leatherhead in Surrey, to be precise.  By 11 o’clock, I am gently perspiring and surprised that despite the ease with which I can snip the blooms off the soft green stems, this ‘gentle’ exercise is becoming more demanding.  At midday, I am seriously sweating buckets under the relentless glare of the sun, my early euphoria is evaporating and I am ready for a break. My fellow-workers seem more hardened, however - and ashamed of my lily-livered townie pedigree, I persevere.

 ANTONIA FRASER , THE LIFE OF A LITERARY LADY – for Costco Connection (American wholesale warehouse retailer)

I was somewhat daunted at the prospect of meeting literary lioness Lady Antonia Fraser, whose staggering output of 22 books - including nine full-length biographies - has achieved worldwide sales of over a million, quite apart from a cornucopia of awards. But Lady Antonia’s fabled charm, graciousness and natural warmth rapidly disarmed me, as did her cat Placido, an affectionate furry black bundle with a purr as loud as a drill. I knew that she had turned 70 this year but was unprepared for her striking height – she stands over 5ft 8ins tall - her regal bearing and youthful appearance, which easily allowed her to pass for a decade younger. We chatted in her elegant Victorian drawing room, filled with photographs of her six children, 16 grandchildren and her equally famous playwright husband, Harold Pinter, who, having beaten off throat cancer, continues to accumulate column inches in the quality press. Great vases of scented white regale lilies adorned the tables, set off by a rich tapestry of Persian rugs and, of course, hundreds of books lining the shelves, spotlit by the autumn sunlight streaming in through the French windows. The latter overlook a stepped and stone-flagged walled garden framed by trellises, creepers and the tinkling sounds of water splashing into four pottery fountains, beside which the couple frequently entertain. It is hard to imagine that this quiet oasis is but a mere stone’s throw from west London’s lively Notting Hill. Appropriately, the leafy garden square in which their home in located, is surrounded by houses boasting blue plaques of other eminent personages who once lived there, such as John McDonall Stuart (1815-1866), the first explorer to cross the Atlantic and the Christian poet and philosopher Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941). Although not exclusively, Fraser generally chooses women as the subjects of her histories because she feels it is easier to write from the female standpoint and “as a woman myself, I am interested in the female experience in history.”


 TATTOO ART – for Guardian Society – Diary                         

I anticipated my first visit to a mens’ prison with some trepidation. After a detailed discussion with the Home Office press officer on what I should wear, I arrived looking as near like Mother Theresa of Shepherd’s Bush as I could muster. Imagine my surprise then, when Ms Marilyn Monroe from the Home Office pitched up outside the castellated entrance sporting a tight T-shirt with a black lacy bra-strap hanging off the shoulder and an au naturel midriff below. Definitely eye-candy for the inmates. But maybe I’m uncool or just plain prim and these are modern times? Fire-breathing dragons and deadly scorpions may seem strange, if appropriate, subjects for prison art. But in case you think Britain’s prison population are spending their time needling holes in their cell-mates’ bodies, the artistic achievements of a five-week enterprise in west London’s HMP Wormwood Scrubs should rapidly dispel that illusion. A £6,000 grant from the Koestler Award enabled practising artists Gino Ballantyne and Moira McCarthy to work with the inmates in making and hanging their creations in the sterile wings of their cell blocks. It was the first time in 130 years of the Scrubs’ existence that art has been displayed there. “Tattoos are cool and they appeal to both sexes,” explains McCarthy, “They’re also part of the culture of being an outsider.” Both she and Ballantyne already have extensive experience of working with prisoners.  “Art is a catalyst and this project has enabled the prisoners to develop their self-esteem and take pride in their achievements in what is essentially a ‘negative’ environment. It has been quite fascinating to see these guys grow.” The artists hope to roll their tattoo project out to other prisons across Britain. And Ms Monroe from the Home Office is offering her shoulder. 


 AUBE ADVENTURE – for Everything France                                                             

Getting round France during a public sector workers’ strike is not easy. Luckily, I arrived just before it started and conveniently, the Eurostar pulled into the Gare du Nord, only one metro stop from the Gare de l’Est.  With 15 minutes to catch my TGV connection, I easily made it. Half an hour later, and I was standing on one of the many bridges spanning the sleepy Seine town of Nogent. To my left, twin towers of the nuclear power station billowed white clouds into the sky – an unprepossessing sight compensated for by the enticing mediaeval timbered buildings, which jut out from the narrow alleyways criss-crossing the main streets. With names like Ruelle de chat qui peche (Little Street of the cat who fishes), who can resist exploring? But the real purpose of my visit was to catch the Camille Claudel (1864 – 1943) exhibition at the Agora Michel Baroin before it closed. Unheard of on this side of the channel, Claudel is famous among French art lovers for not only being Rodin’s studio apprentice, model and then mistress but for her prodigious artistic talent in an era when few women became sculptors. It was in fact Claudel – not Rodin – who sculpted many of the exquisite hands and anguished faces of the figures depicted on the Gates of Hell as well as modelling much of the detail on the Burghers of Calais.  Her intense affair with Rodin, 24 years her senior, invokes parallels with the triangular relationship between Diana, Prince Charles and Camilla, since Rodin refused to terminate a liaison with his long-time companion Rose Beuret. She expresses the torment she suffered in her later works – beseeching, despair, abandonment and frustration. A recent film about her life, played by Isabelle Adjani with Gerard Depardieu as Rodin, attracted her to the attention of the French public. So much so, that 40,000 visitors flocked to see just 55 of Claudel’s sculptures in this modest gallery during the 14 weeks they were on show. The intense interest it generated, has resolved the town council to build a special gallery for a permanent display of her work, in the grounds of the museum housing those of her tutor Alfred Boucher. 


THE ART OF CHANGE – for ROOF (Shelter’s magazine)
How a regional theatre contributed to the social regeneration of an inner city housing estate and what social housing providers learned from this experience

Ten years ago, the Ebor Gardens housing estate in Leeds was in 'terminal
decline.'  Burglaries and joyriding were rife. Annual turnover had
reached 41 per cent, with a third of the residents clamouring to be
moved out. 
 These problems were compounded by poverty, unemployment and
the physical, as well as psychological, sense of being marooned
on the outskirts. The estate is bordered by the A64, one of the busiest
arterial roads into the city centre.
 It is hardly surprising then, that both individuals and the community suffered from low self-esteem, lacked a sense of community identity, and its elderly residents  felt cut off.

Just across the A64 stands one of West Yorkshire's foremost cultural
institutions - the West Yorkshire Playhouse (WYP). A vertigo-inducing
pedestrian footbridge links Ebor Gardens to the theatre. Yet it is
ironic that a means of communication should create such a real barrier.



MILES BETTER – for Guild of Food Writers Newsletter

 The stereotypical image of Farmer Giles with muddy boots, a fat belly, straw sprouting from various body parts and an inarticulate drawl has long since gone. In its place is the modern farmer: highly educated, technologically advanced and alert to every business opportunity. And so he needs to be! Farming in the traditional sense of the word is on the way out. Survival means diversifying – and that’s not just because of the recent BSE, foot and mouth and other crises to have decimated the industry. It’s just as much to do with worldwide over-production and cheap labour, which is fast making home-grown produce uneconomic and redundant. “Do you know the Chinese pay their agricultural workers £1 a day,” pointed out Mike Blee, director and farmer of The Barn Yard at Gore Farm in Upchurch by Sittingbourne, Kent. His remarks were keenly absorbed by the three of us Guild members on a countryside outing to learn how farmers are coping with the hard reality that commercial orchards are no longer a paying proposition.  



REFUGEE FAMILY – case study for charity annual report

Colombian-born Alejandra Valenoa, 32,her husband Juan, 36, and their young daughter flew into Heathrow airport on an icy November night in 1994. The family could speak  not a word of English and as it was a Saturday evening, no one from the Refugee Arrival Project (RAP) could be contacted to assist them. They spent the next two nights waiting and sleeping in an arrivals lounge until Monday came.  Their situation mirrors that of many asylum seekers. Coming from a poor family (father a railway worker and mother a teacher) of political activists who were trying to better conditions for local rural people, Alejandra was forced to flee from the oppressive military regime when one of her brothers disappeared and her mother was murdered after campaigning to find him. She herself suffered death threats and beatings. She took refuge with her family in neighbouring Ecuador, which referred her to an international refugee organisation. So it was that they came to be put on a plane to England. 



Please click on a thumbnail to see a larger version.

Picture of author © Susan Wolk Picture of author
Photo of Susan Wolk