RNF Skinner


A Londoner by upbringing, I was educated at Eltham College in south-east London and went on to take a Natural Sciences degree at Cambridge University. While there, as well as being a member of the famous ‘Footlights’ club, I co-founded and performed with the cabaret-revue team ‘Headlights’, latterly ‘Seventh Sense’. 

In 1975 I moved to Devon, where I still live, to write a novel and, increasingly, poetry. Although that first attempt at a novel remains unpublished (and, frankly, unpublishable), several pieces of my short fiction appeared in literary magazines. Two of the longer pieces won awards from South West Arts. 

With my unpublishable novel well out of the way, an idea for another attempt began to develop in 1987, resulting in my scribbling down 20,000 words over the Easter weekend, which I then worked up into a short novel called simply ‘Melanie’. I subsequently wrote a prequel and jotted down notes for a sequel, then put them all back in the drawer as my poetry began to gain some recognition, and I now have nine published titles. These include The Logic of Whistling (Cairns 2002), A brief poetry of time (Oversteps 2016) and Invocations (Wild Goose 2017). With fellow poet Chris Southgate I have undertaken two tours of south-west England, sponsored by South West Arts; and with composer Nigel Walsh I have collaborated in the writing of a range of songs, including the musical Bethlehem! I still occasionally write and perform sketch-based comedy.

photo of RNF (Richard) Skinner, Exeter-based author & poet

 In April 2017, having published two poetry collections in quick succession, I felt that that well had run dry, so with other commitments out of the way I returned to my 1987 protagonists Melanie and Phil, and started again. The resulting work, Still Crazy… (SilverWood 2017), was published a mere 33 years from conception. As follow-ups, I am about to publish a set of short stories entitled “After All…” (SilverWood 2022); and a novella entitled “These Years” is well under way.

In other spheres of life, I have been involved in the world of mental health for many years in various capacities; I am an active member of the church of England, distinctly on the liberal wing; and in 2012 I gained a PhD from Exeter University for a thesis on spirituality and evolutionary psychology. In 2010 I married Betsy who continues to be hugely supportive of my writing ventures, for which I am extremely grateful. The dog and a visiting cat are involved only in their dedication to chewing paper and walking over the computer keyboard respectively. Our three hens couldn’t care one way or the other.


Although my poetry books are published under my given name of Richard, I have adopted my initials of RNF for publishing fiction to avoid confusion with two other novelists of the same name — one of them, curiously, an older former pupil from my school.

contact lens Richard Skinner Exeter comedy sketch
RNFS - performing at Brook Kitchen, Budleigh Salterton
Richard Skinner Exeter Sketch Comedy Troupe Headlights
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