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AF Harrold
AF Harrold

All About AF Harrold

A.F. Harrold is a poet and performer who writes for both adults and children. Although he grew up in West Sussex, he is now based in Reading, Berkshire (where he hosts a monthly poetry night, Poets’ Café, at South Street Arts Centre).

A.F.’s books include the series of Fizzlebert Stump novels from Bloomsbury and numerous small press poetry collections including the children’s book – I Eat Squirrels.

He is a regular on the poetry and cabaret scene having performed at clubs and festivals (Poetry, Literary and Music) around the world including the Edinburgh Fringe, the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, Queensland Poetry Festival and in 2008 he was Glastonbury Festival’s Website’s Poet-in-Residence.

His poetry has been featured on BBC radio including BBC 7’s Poetry Stand Up, Radio 3’s Late Junction and Radio 4’s The Material World and Wondermentalist Cabaret.

Of how he ended up with such an interesting job Ashley has this to say: ‘I began writing poetry as a teenager in order to impress girls. It didn’t work and the poetry was very bad, but some people liked some of it, mainly the funny bits. I started visiting open mic nights and reading them out. The funny ones still went down best. I entered poetry slams and eventually won some of them. Finding myself without a day job, for one reason or another, I began running some poetry workshops and visiting schools. Since I was going to schools I started writing poems to read in schools, then some kid asked me if I’d written any stories (probably because he didn’t much like the poems) and so I wrote the first Fizzlebert Stump novel, and the rest, as they say, is what’s happening now.’

A.F’s School Visits

For the most part Ashley works with key stage 2, but he’s open to offers. During his visits he brings poetry and language to life with strangeness, richness, silliness and oddly serious enthusiasm. His passion for the pleasures of words and communication spills over infectiously into the classroom.

A visit to a typical primary school will begin with a whole school assembly during which everyone will wake up. Ashley will recite poems, stalk about the room, ask questions and stroke his beard a bit. Everyone will laugh.

(The advantages of the whole school assembly are, firstly, that throughout the rest of the day Ashley doesn’t have to introduce himself afresh to each new group, and, secondly, that any classes or year groups who don’t have the opportunity for a workshop with him are left in a heightened state of poetic openness that their own teachers may still be able to seize the opportunity to do something of the own – the inspiration is there.)

The rest of the day will typically be divided into a number of workshop sessions, often four 50-60 minute sessions with a class or two in each group, although longer sessions with one group are always welcomed too. During the workshop Ashley will talk, ask questions, tease ideas out of your children’s brains and show them one or two easy ways to approach writing poems with lots of examples and discussion. By the end of the session children will usually have something in progress that can be finished in class with their teacher.

A.F’s Books

fizzlebert stump

Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Ran Away From The Circus (And Joined The Library)

Once, and only once, there was a boy whose name was Fizzlebert.

Fizzlebert Stump lives in a travelling circus. He hangs around with acrobats, plays the fool with clowns, and puts his head in a lion’s mouth every night. But it can be a bit lonely being the only kid in the circus. So one day Fizz decides to join a library – and that’s when it all goes terribly wrong…

A story of a boy, a book, some very bad people, some very brave deeds, and the importance of rubber teeth for lions.


Fizzlebert Stump and The Bearded Boy

It began with a pair of false teeth, or rather, it began without a pair of false teeth.

The bearded Barboozul family are the new stars of Fizzlebert Stump’s circus. Their act is full of magic, mystery, fun and fear. And it’s nice to have another by around, even if he is a bit … hairy. But then things start to go wrong. His lion loses his dentures. The clowns lose their noses. The Ringmaster loses his temper. And the circus is about to lose its licence. Is the bearded boy to blame?

A story of friendship, fiendish schemes, emergency tuna, and the importance of proper beard care.

i eat squirrels

I Eat Squirrels

This book contains stuff that’s not normal, not usual and entirely right. There are disgusting things happening with horrible food. There are animals acting oddly. There are people who don’t wash, doughnuts that can’t escape, pirates who are too nice for their own good and dogs who seek revenge for terrible wrongs.

Basically, at the end of the day, when all’s said and done it’s a book of silly poems and that’s that.

Reviews & Recommendations

For Fizzlebert Stump
‘A riotous romp that will be loved by all fans of Mr Gum.’ –

‘This book makes you want to carry on reading it. […] This book teaches you to beware of strangers, to tell your parents where you are going, not to fall too far behind with your cleaning and to check that a lion is wearing rubber false teeth before you put your head in its mouth.’ – The Guardian

‘The novel walks a high-wire of daft ideas and deft storytelling, ringmastered by a narrator who intrudes on the action with hilariously incongruous asides. Top fun at the Big Top.’ – Financial Times

‘Still reeling from A.F.!!! Our kids absolutely loved it. I don’t think they had been to any stand up before. They are all dying to read the poems and the next book. Keep up the fantastic work – it is making a serious difference to our kids’ lives.’ –Pegasus School, Oxford

‘This yak-poet is Spike Milligan and Peter Cook rolled into one, but with the non-PC stuff taken out so the jokes are environmentally and culturally friendly.’ – Daljit Nagra, Jewish Free School, London

‘A.F. Harrold left our school assembly hall dripping with poetry! His wit and wisdom cannot fail to inspire a love for poetry in children.’ – Donna Pocock-Bell, St Helen & St Katharine School, Abingdon

‘What an inspirational man! A.F. had the girls hanging on his every word – some amazing language was created – the girls were absolutely animated and still buzzing today.’ – Helen Holland, Rye St Antony School, Oxford

‘An original: weird and wonderful. The best of A.F. Harrold’s poems have a subversive humour that is quite brilliant.’ – Brian Patten

‘An English eccentric in the Viv Stanshall tradition.’ – The Glasgow Herald

To Make a Booking

To make an enquiry about A.F. Harrold, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at