Female; married; children: two sons.
Agent—PDF, Pat Kavanagh, Drury House, 34-43 Russell St., London WC2B 5HA, England.
Sports journalist and writer. Sunday Telegraph, London, England, sports writer.
(Author of text) Leading Men, foreword by Jane Russell, Villard Books (New York, NY), 1985.
(Editor) The World Cup, Virgin Publishers (London, England), 1986.
Dangerous Dancing (novel), Chatto and Windus (London, England), 1986.
Long Distance Information (memoir), Macmillan (London, England), 1999.
26.2 (nonfiction), Jonathan Cape (London, England), 1999.
Contributor to anthologies, including Young Writer of the Year, Robert Maxwell (London, England), 1969. Contributor to periodicals including the Independent, Runner's World and Guardian. Author of screenplay Those Glory, Glory Days; author of television script for four episodes of comedy series Playing for Real, produced by BBC Scotland.
Sports journalist Julie Welch was the first woman in England to enter the field of men's sports—namely football (called soccer in the United States)—by reporting a weekly column in the Guardian. In her screenplay for the film Those Glory, Glory Days, about the 1960 and 1961 victories for the Spurs football team, Welch depicts the loneliness she encountered early in her career. Anne Coddington quoted Welch in the Guardian: "For the first few weeks it was all right. They thought 'She'll go away soon.' But when they realised I wasn't, they started to think 'What is this woman doing in our preserve?'"
For her 1985 book Leading Men, Welch switches her focus from football to films. This book contains approximately 300 photos of some of Hollywood's male legends, along with text by Welch. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that the actors seem to have been chosen "on the basis of sex appeal," noting omissions of movie greats like Charlie Chaplin and the inclusion of more obscure stars such as Nils Asther. The reviewer also commented that the brief biographical descriptions accompanying the portraits are "interesting and opinionated." Comparing the portraits of modern actors such as Sean Penn to those of yesteryear, such as Cary Grant, Campbell Geeslin observed in People that the "peevish, self-absorbed mien" of the former seems to indicate that "Hollywood no longer produces myth-generating leading men."
Welch's 1986 novel, Dangerous Dancing, departs from the world of men to explore the six-member, all-female pop-dance group Sweet Fanny Addams. Boyd Tonkin described the book in the London Observer as a "rough and clumsy beast, but it belongs unashamedly to now," while a reviewer for Books called it a "lively, feisty debut."
During her late forties, Welch began exercising to counteract years of unhealthy living. It all began in 1996 when she got a sudden urge to ride a bicycle from London to Paris to raise money for the Royal British Legion. Her husband of twelve years foresaw only two problems—he'd never seen her ride a bike, and she didn't own one. Undeterred, she took up cycling and then, after covering a foot race for the Sunday Telegraph, running. Welch explains in an article for the Independent: "For a good 15 years of my adult life I smoked 40 cigarettes a day, went everywhere by taxi and was proud of my ability to consume my 21 weekly units of alcohol in a single lunchtime.… I couldn't run upstairs, let alone [the marathon distance of] 26.2 miles. On a scale of fat blobbiness, I was definitely at the Pavarotti end. Now I'm fit, strong and hardy."
In Long Distance Information, Welch shares her arduous journey to physical fitness. However, she also describes how training for distance running helped her face emotional pain from her childhood and the resultant deep feelings of inadequacy. Lucy Dallas wrote in the Times Literary Supplement that Welch began a running trip across France from the very place where, as a ten year old on an exchange trip, she became trapped and experienced much unhappiness. Dallas pointed out that Welch was "literally running away from the scene … something she was unable to do the first time round."
While Long Distance Information traces Welch's transformation and her newfound passion for running marathons, 26.2 is a collection of interviews with fellow London marathon runners. The book describes the individual reasons she and 30,000 others are committed—or addicted—to facing the body-bashing, grueling race year after year. Welch wrote in her Independent article, "Every London Marathon so far, I've discovered something much better about myself than the fact that I can run 26 miles more or less slowly—the knowledge that I can make it through, on my own."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Books, July, 1992, review of Dangerous Dancing, p. 18.
Cosmopolitan, December, 1985, Carol E. Rinzler, review of Leading Men, p. 30.
Guardian, August 12, 1996, Anne Coddington, "Popping up … Jills in the Box. Make Way, Lads. The Lasses Want to Have More of the Game," p. T014.
Observer (London, England), May 10, 1992, Boyd Tonkin, review of Dangerous Dancing, p. 55.
People, Campbell Geeslin, review of Leading Men, p. 24.
Publishers Weekly, October 11, 1985, review of Leading Men, p.55.
Times Literary Supplement, July 30, 1999, Lucy Dallas, review of Long Distance Information, p. 29.
Serpentine Running Club Web site,http://www.serpentine.org.uk/ (November 10, 2003), Julie Welch, "Blood, Sweat, and Spirit."
Town & Country Post Online,http://www.edwd.co.uk/ (March 2000), review of Long Distance Information.*