SOPHIE LÉVY BURTON Soul Sister

MONK founder and editor SOPHIE LÉVY BURTON in conversation with Corinna Ferros on how and why she founded MONK.

Sultry spring day in London, Monday 6 May, pavements wet and strewn with damp blossom petals. It’s the late afternoon, Mercury transitioning into Taurus. Somewhere a royal baby is being born. South Kensington feels self-absorbed, busy. Sophie arrives nervous as she says she’s not used to being interviewed. Orders a beer. Tells me to be gentle. We have known each other well over 25 years. I tell her drink your beer, let’s just jump in…


MY BACKGROUND WAS always writing, journalism, travel journalism, then fiction. For twenty years since leaving Cambridge, that’s what I did, who I was: pretty much my identity, creative identity. The mind, argument, word counts, spell check, the keyboard, plots, narrative. And then about ten years ago I became sick, really sick – a balance disorder – and finally after fighting it for a while, I thought wait – I must listen to my body. I realized I wasn’t happy and probably hadn’t been happy for a while. And remarkably I left off what I’d been doing for 25 years. It was A Big Thing.

Sophie Levy Burton MONK Founder and Editor


Sophie Levy Burton MONK Founder and Editor

I think I was lost for awhile, floundered around. I was probably quite depressed. Soon I became interested in painting and the visual arts. I started running these mixed media art Salons with an artist friend, Goldsmiths alumnus Cornelius Mattey. They were informal, grass roots, mildly chaotic, enormous fun, quite addictive.  We would run them in Cornelius’s flat or in cafes in London. I got deeper into my creative self. I discovered it was the painting and the painters I loved hanging out with. More open somehow than writers. More immediate, less mental. Free, less guarded, more grounded – like their pigments. And they were so much more fun to get drunk with than writers.

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