Writer, Performer, Poet & Teacher
Jo Clifford was born in North Staffordshire in 1951 where she was raised as a boy.
This entailed an enforced separation from her mother at the age of 7 when she was sent to boarding school; the resulting trauma was intensified at the sudden death of her mother when she was 12.
She discovered her vocation for theatre when she played women’s roles in school plays. That was when it became clear to her she was not male. The terror, shame and confusion of this realisation in a completely ignorant, hostile, and prejudiced environment unfortunately became associated with the theatre. It took her twenty years to recover enough to find her voice as a theatre writer (with “Losing Venice” in 1985) and another twenty years after that to re-discover her vocation as an actress and performer (with “The Gospel According To Jesus Queen of Heaven” in 2009)
She was fortunate to fall in love with her future partner, Sue Innes, at St Andrews University in 1971. Their partnership lasted 33 years until Sue’s premature death in 2005. During that time they raised two daughters, sharing equal responsibility for their childcare. Sue established herself as a feminist journalist, thinker, historian and campaigner; and Jo established herself as one of Scotland’s leading playwrights.
In the late eighties she wrote a series of major works for the Traverse, which were performed internationally, and which had gender balanced casts and gave the central role to a woman. She also established herself as a leading translator from Spanish, French and Portuguese, became a regular and highly respected radio dramatist, and as an adapter of novels for radio and the stage.
After Sue’s death, she took the necessary steps to formalise her female identity and it was then she began to re-discover herself as actress and performer. She has written about 80 plays for every dramatic medium.