Dear Tosh

Graffiti was Tosh’s passion, and one slip, while out scouting for a site, cost him his life.

For the tenth anniversary of his death, his mother writes him twenty-seven letters; one for each year that he lived. She tells him things she did not have the chance to say when he was alive, talks about his childhood and teenage years, and brings him up to date with what has happened in the family since he left. Going back ten years, reliving the days around the fatal accident, she tells him what that time was like for her.

Dear Tosh is a mother’s story of love, grief and acceptance.


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'Gorf' wasTosh's Graffiti Tag 

What People Say About Dear Tosh

Cathy Rentzenbrink

best selling author of The Last Act of Love, A Manual for Heartache and Dear Reader

Ninette is a beautiful writer and it is a joy to spend time on the page with her. Dear Tosh is a brave and engaging story of how to carry on when the worst happens.

Vesna Goldsworthy

author of the memoir, Chernobyl Strawberries, and Gorsky a novel. 

Dear Tosh is a deeply affecting memoir.  Writing with great courage, honesty and tenderness, Ninette Hartley creates a wonderful memorial to her lost son.

Catherine Simpson

author of When I had a Little Sister

Dear Tosh contains a bereaved mother’s letters to her lost son which echo with love, grief, compassion and humanity. They are written with elegance and honesty, and although full of deep sadness, also contain joy and gratitude for the life that was. Dear Tosh demonstrates that no one is truly gone while they are still loved and talked about. Uplifting and beautiful.

Christopher Wakling

author of six acclaimed novels including:  What I Did, The Devil’s Mask and On Cape Three Points.

Dear Tosh is a searing account of a mother’s grief.  The beautiful, sad letters are an unflinching, heartbreaking account of a parent confronting the most painful of all possible losses.  But they’re also laced with honest humour and shot through with a love that is, ultimately, uplifting.

Jan Scott

Pre Reader

A powerful exploration of the grief experienced through the loss of a child, handled in a sensitive and positive way, using family history as a healing balm. Brought me to tears at times, but the writer's positivity shines through the letters she writes.

Gail Aldwin

is a novelist, poet, screenwriter. Her debut novel The String Games was a finalist in The People's Book Prize 2020

As you might expect, this memoir has a conversational quality captured through its epistolary structure – the author’s letters to her deceased adult son. There is a charming rhythm to the narrative which is touching, personal and reflective. Ninette Hartley cleverly juxtaposes the experience of lockdown with memories of the life and untimely death of Tosh. There are echoes of earlier losses including Ninette’s father (who also died from an accident) when she was thirteen. Some events are so raw they can only be captured through poetry. This memoir is a tribute to Tosh and it is also a story of remarkable, generous and unending love


A few words about the author Ninette Hartley 

Ninette Hartley is a writer, mother, grandmother, wife and teacher. She has followed many paths – from acting and dancing to magazine publishing, and even driving a pony and trap – but she has always come back to storytelling.


Ninette has an MA in creative writing and has been published in three short story collections. In 2015 she was shortlisted for the Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize, and was longlisted for the Poetry Prize in 2020. She has won or been placed in several flash fiction competitions.

After eight years living in rural Italy she moved to the Dorset countryside with her husband, Geoff, and beloved rescue dog, Jpeg. Dear Tosh is her first memoir.

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Poetry - Short Story - Memoir - Novel 


Exeter Sweatshirt
Performing at a Story Slam
Me Thinking about Writing
LRW Book
Story in LRW
Performing at Bridport Story Slam
Me with Dissertation
me coming second at story slam

"Do Things That Make You Happy"

Tosh Hartley 2010 

This phrase has become a family motto. Tosh says it at the end of a video that he made with his brother back in 2010. You can watch the video here... 


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