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Neil Bartlett The Disappearance Boy


signed by the author

A new edition including a Foreword by the author,

and an Afterword with world famous illusionist, DERREN BROWN

‘As someone who works in theatre and live performance, I adored the way Bartlett drew out the characters and life of a backstage world, the glamour and sadness that can sometimes go hand in hand in entertainment. Bartlett writes in a way that draws you personally into the story, yet never lets you fully trust what the outcome may be.’



The Disappearance Boy surrounds us in the crumbling spectacle of British variety entertainment—inviting us to an off-season Brighton where performers in lonely digs navigate their marginalised bodies and identities. They long to defy the boundaries of a restrictive and soon to be outdated world. A hypnotic and haunting journey that conjures the ghosts of variety into unexpected and emotive misdirections—the magic cannot be confined to the stage, but
breaks through every page.’


‘This book and its enchanting characters had me under their spell.

I was bewitched.’


‘Neil Bartlett's ability to vividly evoke hidden lives is uncanny.’ 


‘Seductive, dark, theatrical and fascinating, Bartlett’s writing is spellbinding’


1953. The backstreets of Brighton are buzzing with preparations for the celebrations of the Coronation of Elizabeth II and, at the Grand Theatre, illusionist Teddy Brookes is plotting something crowd-pleasing to crown the occasion—with some assistance from glamorous Soho showgirl Pamela Rose. What the audience can never see is that, hidden behind the smoke and mirrors of his act, there is a whole world of secrets and lies…


And a disappearance boy.


In his acclaimed fourth novel, Neil Bartlett once again performs his trademark trick of slipping into the hidden spaces of queer history and bringing them vividly to life.

‘Bartlett is a seductive narrator. The Disappearance Boy is written in an

intimate, conspiratorial tone familiar to readers of his Costa-nominated novel,

Skin Lane ... Bartlett is particularly good at evoking the faded glamour

of the theatre and the brittle egos that compete offstage...  

An entertaining routine and Bartlett pulls it off with aplomb.’



NEIL BARTLETT lives in London with his partner James Gardiner. His first novel, the ground-breaking queer love story Ready To Catch Him Should He Fall, written in a council flat on the Isle of Dogs, was published in 1990 and translated into five European languages. Since then, his books have been nominated for (amongst others) the Whitbread Prize (Mr Clive and Mr Page, 1996), the Costa Award (Skin Lane, 2007) and the Polari Prize (Address Book, 2022). Address Book was an Observer Book of the Year, 2021, and The Disappearance Boy earnt him a nomination for Stonewall Author of the Year in 2014. Neil also makes theatre; most recently, he wrote the script for Orlando, the lead role in which was played by Emma Corrin in the West End of London in 2022.

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