Laurie Penny was born in a skip in Islington in 1986 and grew up wild in the back-alleys of London’s bourgeois ghetto, surviving only on mouldy paninis and half-eaten pots of hummous fished out of bins and sleeping in rolled-up copies of The Observer Review. After a dispute with a notorious urban fox gang, she fled to Brighton Beach, and was taken in by a radical seagull collective and weaned on mulched-up, regurgitated back-issues of Spare Rib and Red Rag. Eventually she was offered a scholarship to Brighton College Sixth Form, where she edited a student newspaper and never learned to wear a tie. She went to Wadham College, Oxford, and later moved back to London to work in a shop in Camden Market, where being a scuzzy, mohawked Brighton feminist was part of the job description. It didn’t stick, and she rapidly turned to a life of journalism, having discovered that she was unsuited to any other employment by virtue of being weird and difficult. Now she has long hair, a semi-regular income, and zooms around trying to put the world to rights. She can still talk to seagulls.


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