Welcome to the website for Tara Hanks, author of The Mmm Girl and Wicked Baby.

About Me



From ‘Soledad’ to Hope, With Lynch and Lana


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SOLEDAD is a new journal from my good friend Jeremy Richey, the maestro behind ART DECADES. Soledad is (of course) the Spanish word for solitude, which is one of my favourite things. It can be sad, but also beautiful – a state of mind reflected in the magazine’s black and white imagery. I’m proud to have contributed a sixteen-page article about David Lynch’s return to Twin Peaks for the first volume. It’s the opening instalment in a two-part series, and while I can’t promise to unlock all of its mysteries, I hope fans of the show will enjoy my personal impressions. Continue reading

Penny Marshall 1943-2018


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Carole Penny Marshall was born in the Bronx in 1943. Her mother Marjorie ran a dance school, and her father directed industrial films. Of Italian descent, he had changed his name from Masciarelli to Marshall. Their youngest daughter was named after Carole Lombard, the much-loved comedic actress and wife of Clark Gable, who had died in a plane crash the year before. Young Carole’s middle name was inspired by her sister Ronny, who was ‘saving her pennies’ to buy a horse: and it was that name, ‘Penny’, which finally stuck. The family lived in a building which also housed the young Neil Simon, Paddy Chayevsky, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren.  Continue reading

2018: A Year In Books


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With her third novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh confirms herself as a major writer of our time. This darkly comic tale follows the sleepy adventures of a young, beautiful and rich but miserable New Yorker who embarks on a drug-fuelled sabbatical at the dawn of the 21st century. Moshfegh’s mischievous delight in the squalid details of everyday life powers her absurd yet visionary narrative.  Continue reading

2018: A Year in Film and TV


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I’m lucky enough to live just around the corner from the Duke of York’s, England’s oldest independent cinema; and so this year I made the most of my Picturehouse membership. I like movies that blend a touch of realism with a sense of style: Sean Baker’s The Florida Project, Mike Leigh’s Peterloo and Kore-Eda Hirokazu’s Shoplifters satisfied those needs.  Continue reading

2018: A Year in Music


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She may have left the stage decades ago, but 2018 was a vintage year for die-hard fans of the mysterious Bobbie Gentry, with a rare vinyl release on Record Store Day followed in September by a career-spanning CD box-set, The Girl From Chickasaw County Continue reading

Marilyn: A Public Icon, in Private


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Charles Casillo is a multi-talented author, actor and screenwriter. His books include the novel, The Marilyn Diaries – a reimagining of Monroe’s final years – and a biography of the novelist and gay icon, John Rechy. Casillo was also a consultant and researcher for J. Randy Taraborrelli’s The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe. In an appendix, Taraborrelli acknowledged Casillo as one of the “true experts” on Marilyn’s life, an “’ultimate’ Marilyn Monroe fan who understands her character and personality so well.” Now almost a decade later, with Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon finally published, Taraborrelli hails it as “the book he was always meant to write.” Continue reading

Marilyn in Hollywood: The ‘Confidential’ Years


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Samantha Barbas is a professor of law at the University of Buffalo, specialising in the history of America’s mass media. Her previous publications include Movie Crazy: Fans, Stars, and the Cult of Celebrity (2001), and The First Lady of Hollywood: A Biography of Louella Parsons (2005.) In her latest book, Confidential Confidential: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Notorious Scandal Magazine, she explores the lurid history and aftermath of a 1950s publishing phenomenon. Continue reading

The Muse Above My Desk


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Not long ago I acquired a very special painting by my artist friend, Fionn Wilson. Christine at 72 is based on one of the last formal photographs of Christine Keeler, captured by Pal Hansen just a few years before her sad passing in December 2017. I’ve decided to place it above my desk: Christine was (of course) the inspiration for my first book, Wicked Baby. And I was born in ’72, so it seems lucky in many ways. For me, this image represents a proud, independent woman looking back on her past and ahead to the future, always with unflinching courage and honesty. I also find it reassuring to contemplate this model of a mature woman, embracing wisdom and experience alongside her beauty and sensuality.

I first got to know Fionn due to our shared fascination with Christine Keeler. Fionn has created many striking portraits which show this British icon in a very different light to the tabloid cliché. For several years, Fionn has been working with other women artists on a multi-faceted project which will be launched next year. She is also in touch with Amanda Coe, whose BBC drama The Trial of Christine Keeler is currently shooting and will air in 2019.

Dear Christine (a tribute to Christine Keeler) will be touring from 2019-2020 to Vane Gallery (Newcastle), Elysium Gallery (Swansea) and Arthouse1 (London) and includes sculpture, painting, poetry, music, film, photography (previously unseen images of Christine) and a performance piece and writing and involves twenty amazing artists. It’s not just about me by a long shot. The contributors are: Natalie d’Arbeloff, Katie Chatters, Caroline Coon, Catherine Edmunds, Roxana Halls, Penelope Hayes, Sadie Hennessy, Marguerite Horner, Barbara Howey, Shani Rhys James, Sally Jones, Jo Wonder Woodward, Sadie Lee, Cathy Lomax, Julia Maddison, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Wendy Nelson, Sarah Shaw and Stella Vine. With writing from Lucy Bernadette Cox, Tara Hanks, Julie Raven (Julie Burchill), Tanya Gold, Cathy Lomax, Caroline Coon and Bo Gorzelak Pedersen.

Naturally, I’ll be keeping you all updated as these events develop. In the meantime, Fionn has written about Christine for the current issue of Garageland magazine, taking ‘Difficult Women’ for its theme. (And while we’re on the subject … where would we be without those wicked ladies, anyway?)

Turning a New Page With Jeanne


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I’m glad to tell you all that Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed (Revised and Updated) is now available in hardcover and paperback. A full 90 pages longer than the first edition, and with new photos, it will be our last word on Jeanne’s remarkable life and career. So if you’re looking for a meaty biography to read this Christmas, make sure to buy this new edition as the older version will soon be unavailable. I’ve updated all the links to order from Amazon and other stores here.


Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up


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In her lifetime, Frida Kahlo was little-known outside Mexico. Her reputation abroad could be summarised by this derisive headline from a newspaper article, published during her first trip to the USA in 1933: ‘Wife of the Master Mural Painter Gleefully Dabbles in Works of Art.’ Neither was she commercially successful, though her work was feted by prominent European aesthetes like André Breton. In her home country, however, she was a cultural icon, leading the charge for a modern, independent Mexico.

Continue reading