Texts That Made Me: Hannah Leach

I have always been a touch obsessive. A room covered in S Club 7 posters. Wearing out my friend’s Bring It On VHS and having to buy her a new one. Reading my favourite books over and over until I knew them backwards. Judy Blume’s Starring Sally J Freedman as Herself, which I think of every time I plait my hair; Jacqueline Wilson’s The Lottie Project, which I read so much my teacher told me off for mimicking Wilson’s writing style in my own; Sophie Kinsella’s Can You Keep A Secret, the screenplay for which I have written in my head over and over; and Louise Renninson’s Georgia Nicholson series, which shaped me more that I can say, and not just because my classic embarrassing first email address was “fabbity_fab_babe” at hotmail dot…

Texts That Made Hannah

It’s no wonder I was drawn to fandom in my late teens. My life can be portioned out in overlapping fandoms, texts I buried myself in, obsessed over, consumed repeatedly. The OC (the first thing I read fan fiction about), Doctor Who, Green Wing (the first thing I wrote fan fiction about), Merlin, the Harry Potter series, Spaced, Glee (for my sins), Taylor Swift, Parks and Recreation, even a brief ‘ironic’ (or so I told myself; a lie) foray into the One Direction fandom. I’d be embarrassed, but I’m not, nor should I be. I love things and love losing myself in them, and finding others who do the same. Fandom helps you find strangers who also feel a particular and specific feeling about a particular and specific thing (first, a text; later, everything), and strangers who help you see texts more deeply or more clearly or more queerly or more sexily or more fully.

For these reasons, the text that ‘made me’ the most is probably Alan Bennett’s The History Boys. Through various fandoms and platforms, I’ve made amazing friends online, but none quite like the five women who obsessed over the play text, film, radio play and stage show of The History Boys with me. Tentatively making contact over Livejournal, we swooned over piano-playing forearms, read each other’s fanfic, and clutched each other’s hands as groundlings at Shakespeare’s Globe, as we followed each of the original Boys through their subsequent roles, in a self-made fangirl pyramid scheme. In the decade (!) since, we have sobbed and danced at each others weddings, consoled one another through loss and change, and – yes – screamed our way through a One Direction show. That text, and all the others we have and continue to consume, made the women who made and continue to make me.

Hannah Leach

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