My Body Keeps Your Secrets: Dispatches on Shame and Reclamation


Lucia Osborne-Crowley
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Winner of the Somerset Maugham award 2022

In her first full-length book, Lucia Osborne-Crowley, author of the acclaimed Mood Indigo essay I Choose Elena, writes about the secrets a body keeps, from gender identity, puberty and menstruation to sexual pleasure; to pregnancy or its absence; and to darker secrets of abuse, invasion or violation. 

The voices of women, trans and non-binary people around the world, and the author’s own deeply moving testimony, cohere into an immersive polyphonic memoir that tells the story of the young person’s body in 2021. In this boldly argued and widely researched work about reclaiming our bodies from shame, Osborne-Crowley establishes her credentials as a key intersectional feminist thinker of her generation. 


‘The rigorously controlled use of subconscious memory. The very act of remembering. The attempt to reconcile not only with life, but one’s self. The complicated, exhausting discipline of internalized shame. The nearly unbearable burden of fearful abuse. The weight of forgiveness. All of this in Lucia Osborne-Crowley’s MY BODY KEEPS YOUR SECRETS. It is a profound, harrowing, enlightening book.’
—Susanna Moore, author of Miss Aluminum

‘A deeply important book about the wide, deep ocean that is pain and trauma, about the reverberations through our lives individually and collectively, psychically and physically, that we are only just beginning to understand. How we can’t separate our minds and our bodies; how it builds within us, even, maybe especially, if we try to disregard it.’
—Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure

‘This book brilliantly interrogates our relationship to our bodies but also to those around us, inhabiting each daily, hourly, minute-by-minute contradiction that having a body, and so being alive, entails. A testament to the power of externalising our own stories so as to understand them through others’ eyes, demonstrating how inextricably connected each of us ultimately is. Her writing is beautiful, unflinching and clear and, most importantly, it renders shame visible – a material thing that, having been sewn into the body, can also be cast off.’
—Olivia Sudjic, author of Asylum Road

‘This book is a burning manifesto for the revolutionary act of articulating shame and trauma. It is a testament to the feminist praxis of listening to each other’s stories in collective solidarity as a refusal of erasure and a way to claim presence and power in the world.’
—Jessica Andrews, author of Saltwater 

My Body Keeps Your Secrets will have forever shifted my perception of how shame works physically and psychically. Weaving her own personal experience with the testimony of others, Lucia Osborne-Crowley has written a singular work that I hope will inspire many more books like it. Imbued throughout with the author’s potential for empathy, care and generosity, as well as her skill in both research and storytelling, this book is indeed a reclamation, through which we might reclaim ourselves from the shame of others.’
—Alice Hattrick, author of Ill Feelings

‘A tender, intimate and generous meditation on the burdens of structural and personal shame on bodies and lives; and a radical call for the transformational power of speaking and listening.’
—Elinor Cleghorn, author of Unwell Women

‘A potent depiction of abuse and transmitted shame – the type of shame inscribed on our bodies, clinging to our insides and concealed deep inside our core.’
—Nataliya Deleva, author of Four Minutes

‘A deeply affecting and eye-opening window into the world of shame, articulating exactly how you and others feel in a way that you may never have been able to say. Grace, style and empathy weave through this salient work.’
—Kit Caless, Influx Press

‘If there is an opposite to gaslighting, this book is it. A powerful, vital, life affirming read.’
—Alya Mooro, author of The Greater Freedom: Life as a Middle Eastern Woman Outside the Stereotypes

‘Lucia Osborne-Crowley writes through and beyond shame with clarity and lyricism in this timely book.’
—Sinéad Gleeson, author of  Constellations: Essays on Bodies, Art, Illness

Published: 2 September 2021
ISBN: 978-1911648130
Cover Design: © Laura Thomas 

Dimensions: Demy 135mm x 216mm paperback with flaps
Length: 304 pages

Publicist: Jordan Taylor-Jones
Foreign rights: The Marsh Agency

About the author

Lucia Osborne-Crowley is a writer and journalist. Her news reporting and literary work has appeared in GrantaThe Sunday Times, HuffPost UK, the Guardian, ABC News, Meanjin, The Lifted Brow and others. Lucia works as a court correspondent for Law360

Lucia’s first book, I Choose Elena, was published in 2019. Her second book, My Body Keeps Your SecretsDispatches on Shame and Reclamation, was published in September 2021. 

 Lucia was awarded a 2022 Somerset Maugham Award for My Body Keeps Your Secrets. 

My Body Keeps Your Secrets

read once that if you want to forgive someone for something – I mean really forgive – something has to die. That grief and loss and acceptance are necessary ingredients of truly letting go. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s fly in the bottle. Wittgenstein said that systems of abuse are like putting a fly in a bottle. The fly can see out at the world because the glass is transparent. But the structure of the bottle is so vast and so consuming of the fly’s small world that it cannot see the glass it is looking through; it thinks it is seeing the world as it really is.

And because the fly cannot see the structure imprisoning it, it is useless to say: You are in a bottle! The fly trusts that its perception of the world is real; to it there is no bottle.

All you can do is help the fly escape the bottle. Only from the outside, flying above it, will the fly be able to see what was imprisoning her.

The body is a very lonely place, especially when it is under threat. And some bodies are always under threat.

As I write this, the world is facing a crisis, the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The UK is in lockdown. Boris Johnson’s government has closed all schools and cancelled GCSE and A level exams until further notice. The whole country has been ordered to work from home.

We are not allowed to go to friends’ houses. All the bars, restaurants and cafes have been ordered to close. A few remain open for takeaways only, but anyone lining up must stand at least two metres away from other people.

This morning, I went for a walk on my own in the sun. I grew up in Australia, and I desperately need vitamin D to stay happy. It is a spring day in London, 23 March 2020. There is not a cloud in the sky, and there are daffodils everywhere.

As I walk through the clear air and look at the fresh flowers, I feel a strange combination of positivity and dread. This really feels like the end of days, but I am calm.

Law and Crime Podcast, 11 January 2022: ‘Obviously, This Is a Big Deal’: Reporter Who Broke Ghislaine Maxwell Juror Story Opens Up About the Complicated Fallout

Lucia Osborne-Crowley for The Independent, 5 January 2022: Ghislaine Maxwell juror breaks silence to The Independent: ‘This verdict is for all the victims’

The YourShelf Podcast, 30 September 2021: Not Looking Away with Lucia Osborne-Crowley

Jessica Payn for The Arts Desk, 28 September 2021: 10 Questions for writer Lucia Osborne-Crowley: The author of ‘My Body Keeps Your Secrets’ on trauma, shame and community

Lucy Hall for the Guardian, 28 September 2021: I survived rape, but I didn’t understand what trauma would do to me

Lucia Osborne-Crowley for The Bookseller, 24 September 2021: Rosie Jones | ‘I wanted to write the book I needed as a child’

Freya Bennett for Ramona Magazine, 9 September 2021: My Body Keeps Your Secrets: Interview with Lucia Osborne-Crowley

 Emily Clements for Kill Your Darlings, 9 September 2021: Books Roundup: Small Joys of Real LifeThe Things We See in the LightLies, Damned LiesMy Body Keeps Your Secrets

BBC Radio Melbourne, 8 September 2021: Mornings with Virginia Trioli

Lucia Osborne-Crowley for Stylist, 2 September 2021: Author of My Body Keeps Your Secrets, Lucia Osborne-Crowley, on the lessons she learned after a devastating breakup

Lucia Osborne-Crowley for The Curiosity Club, 1 September 2021: How My Cat Helped Me Kick My Alcohol Addiction

Emily Bootle for New Statesman, 1 September 2021: Reviewed in short: New books from Carole Hooven, Kristian Shaw, Lucia Osborne-Crowley and Jay Parini

Lucia Osborne-Crowley for Vogue Australia, 31 August 2021: What if, in order to find true love, you need to be alone?

The Owl on the Bookshelf, 2 September 2021: Review of My Body Keeps Your Secrets by Lucia Osborne-Crowley

Lucia Osborne-Crowley for Meanjin Quarterly, 8 February 2021: What if We Never Recover?

Melanie Kembrey for The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 December 2020: The most anticipated books of 2021 

The Papertrail Podcast, December 2019: 045 – Lucia Osborne-Crowley

The YourShelf Podcast, September 2021: #12 Not Looking Away with Lucia Osborne-Crowley

The Garret: Writers on writing Podcast, September 2021: At home with Lucia Osborne-Crowley

The Glass House Podcast, October 2021: Lucia Osborne Crowley

Adelaide Writers’ Week Podcast, March 2022: AWW22 My Body Keeps Your Secrets – Lucia Osborne-Crowley

Late To It Podcast, November 2022: Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman and My Body Keeps Your Secrets by Lucia Osborne-Crowley

Glamour, June 2023: Rape convictions are at an all-time low – is it time we ditched juries in rape trials?

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