Lisa Graves talks to Andrew Doyle about Twitter’s favourite polyracial ecosexual. Andrew Doyle
4th March 2019
On Saturday I was contacted by Rosamund Urwin, a journalist at The Sunday Times, who wanted to know if I was behind the Twitter account Titania McGrath. This ‘radical feminist slam poet’ is a satire of the present crop of young trendy intersectional activists who subscribe to the bourgeois cult of identity politics, and McGrath’s first book – Woke: A Guide to Social Justice – is published this week. Given that I am not a blonde, 24-year-old woman who identifies as a polyracial ecosexual, I was a little surprised by the suggestion that I was the same person. According to Urwin, the book contains a number of references to sources that I have quoted previously. Of course, this is hardly conclusive evidence, especially since my articles are generally published on the internet, rather than circulated privately in manuscript.
I am not the only suspect in this curious affair. Twitter users have speculated that the account is run by Chris Morris, Ricky Gervais, or even the American conservative Ann Coulter. There are now rumours that Rosamund Urwin is the real Titania McGrath, and that her article in The Sunday Times was an ingenious exercise in misdirection. And on Friday, The Times published an exposé in which the satirist Lisa Graves was named as the principal culprit. Lisa was one half of the writing team responsible for the ‘genderqueer Muslim atheist’ character Godfrey Elfwick, who was permanently banned by Twitter in July last year. I spoke to her over the phone to hear her side of the story, and started by asking her directly if she is Titania.
‘The reporter who wrote the article in The Times asked me the same question’, she tells me. ‘And I told him I am not Titania. But he didn’t seem to believe me. A case of my reputation preceding me there, I think.’
This, of course, gets to the heart of the problem. The concept of ‘trolling’ is often misunderstood as a synonym for online abuse. But a genuine troll is one who baits his or her audience, who lures them into a state of credulity, while at the same time signalling the absurdity of their own position. This is what Joe Orton was up to when he wrote letters to newspapers under the pseudonym Edna Welthorpe (Mrs) to complain about his own plays. It is what Chris Morris did in Brass Eye when he duped celebrities to pledge their support to ludicrously implausible charities. When Godfrey Elfwick’s #wrongskin campaign made the national press, he was following in this satirical tradition.
‘The duality is key when it comes to good trolling’, says Lisa. ‘By “trolling” I don’t mean just being a knob and being abusive. I mean it in the old skool sense, like in the glory days of winding up Christians in Yahoo chatrooms. For lols.’
Lisa’s admission makes me nervous. Part of the fun of this kind of trolling is the acquisition of ‘scalps’, and there is a very good chance that even now I am being hoaxed. Last month, NatWest customer service replied in earnest to Titania’s complaint that it was inciting violence against vegans. Not long before, Private Eye had published a quotation from Titania in ‘Pseuds Corner’ in order to mock her pretentious claim that readers should buy her book not for her sake ‘but for the sake of humanity’, not realising that the character was satirical. Liz Wheeler, the host of Tipping Point on the One America News Network, invited Titania to appear on her show to discuss her activism. Titania accepted the offer, on the condition that she have full editorial control, did not have to interact with any males, and was permitted 10 minutes airtime to perform her ‘groundbreaking intersectional feminist slam poetry’.
How, then, can I be sure that Lisa is being genuine when she says she is not Titania? ‘You can’t. Deal with it. Deception is my trade. Trickery is the mist I call upon to obfuscate and bedazzle you. Seriously though, I’m not Titania. This time I am telling the truth. Like that boy in the story about a wolf. “Twilight” or whatever. Check out my fingers, they’re not crossed. Look, this is the universally acknowledged sign that I am not fucking with you.’ As proof, she emails me a photo of her fingers, which are indeed uncrossed, but suspiciously hairy.
In addition to her work as Godfrey Elfwick, under which pseudonym she currently writes for Spectator USA, Lisa is also an accomplished artist. She was commissioned to paint the portrait of Titania McGrath which adorns the dust jacket of Woke. Little wonder, then, that her authorship is widely suspected. Moreover, she is believed to be behind another satirical Twitter account, Jarvis DuPont, the uber-privileged embodiment of white guilt. Jarvis is Titania’s housemate, and they are often seen communicating on Twitter. I point out to Lisa that even if she isn’t behind Titania, these connections suggest that she must know her true identity. ‘Maybe I do’, she says. ‘Maybe I don’t. Who’s to say who Titania really is? In a way, Titania is all of us. Titania is me, Titania is you, Titania is Fred Dibnah. Actually, he’s dead isn’t he? But you get the general idea.’
So how did she get involved with Godfrey Elfwick? ‘My friend was running the account and making me cry laughing every day. Then he got bored of it and jacked it in. I was annoyed with him because I don’t think he appreciated just how loved and needed Godfrey was. A few months went by and people were still talking about the Godfrey account, so I asked my friend if he would mind me bringing it back and he was fine with it. I ran it alone for a while, then he came back on and we ran it together for a bit. Then I called Gary Lineker a bad word rhyming with punt and it got suspended. A few months later I brought it back again. It ended up getting suspended again after I called another cunt on Twitter a cunt on my personal account and he got my account suspended, and Godfrey was nuked as well for being on the same device. I learned a valuable lesson in all of this, which was not to call celebrities cunts on Twitter, even if they really are cunts and totally deserve it. This experience changed me and I grew as a person.’
I ask Lisa to explain the purpose of Titania’s satire and why she thinks it has become so popular. ‘Well, I am not Titania, like I said, but her tweets are parodying the same subjects we did on Godfrey, the same angle I take with Godfrey’s Spectator articles. Identity politics, feminism, which has lost its way, the authoritarian nature of this new woke culture we appear to be living in. I think, in general, most people are fed up of being told what to think and feel. Some really ridiculous things are happening right now in the name of progressiveness, and if you speak out against it, you could get suspended or shamed into apologising for wrongthink. By this, I’m not saying we should all go around being genuinely horrible to others, but that we should be allowed to question and debate issues without being chastised and chased by an internet pitchfork mob. The best way to deal with this sort of thing, the most effective way to fight back, is with humour. Parody has always been an incredibly valuable tool. Satire can mirror the world in such a way that many other mediums cannot. Also, it can be very funny and enjoyable.’
I tell Lisa that I have been accused of ‘punching down’ when I ridicule this ‘woke culture’ in my stand-up, even though it now represents the powerful establishment position. ‘It is not the vulnerable groups that are being mocked’, Lisa says. ‘It is the woke idiots who think they are on some kind of crusade to change the world, when in fact all they are doing is patronising the fuck out of everyone around them and being generally unpleasant while sipping their oatmeal and cardamom chia smoothies and wanking on about how shit capitalism is from their MacBook Pros in Starbucks.’
Although Titania has been praised by left-wing commentators such as Shappi Khorsandi, she has also been recommended by prominent figures on the right like the conservative actor James Woods. Does this not worry her? ‘Well, you should really be asking the person behind the Titania account’, says Lisa, still refusing to fall into my snare. ‘But it is a free country and anyone should be able to retweet what the hell they like. If anything, it shows that the account is doing something right when it is getting people from across the political spectrum retweeting and getting the point of it. It is also hilarious when people take these parody accounts seriously and get angry with them.’
Our conversation is drawing to a close, and I decide to give Lisa one last chance. I point out that sources in Woke appear to have been lifted from my articles at spiked, and that Lisa has often retweeted links to them. Is she trying to frame me? Is she, in fact, the real Titania McGrath? ‘Why are you doing this to me?’, she snaps. ‘I am not Titania. I have said this like literally a billion times now and yet you still persist with this line of questioning. Like, yeah, if I were Titania – let’s just explore that possibility for a second – maybe I would deny it because that amuses, I mean would amuse, me. But I am not Titania and this is bullshit. Go fuck yourself.’
I thank Lisa for her time. ‘Whatevs’, she says, and hangs up.
Andrew Doyle is a stand-up comedian and spiked columnist. He is also the co-founder of Comedy Unleashed, London’s free-thinking comedy club.
The next Comedy Unleashed show will be on 12 March at the Backyard Club in Bethnal Green. The line-up includes Geoff Norcott, Jay Handley, Francis Foster and Rosie Wilby. Tickets are available here.
The issue was first raised by Fatima Jihad Dirka Dirka Dirka Shah, who pulled her 10-year-old daughter out of the school, saying children were too young to be learning about same-sex marriages and LGBT rights in the classroom.
“We are not a bunch of homophobic mothers,” she said. “We just feel that some of these lessons are inappropriate. Some of the themes being discussed are very adult and complex and the children are getting confused.
- But your religion is... now if a Christian parent said as much they would be pilloried...
Over the weekend, there was much speculation as to the ‘true identity’ of Titania McGrath. This was a blatant attempt to silence the second most important voice of our generation. The Times of London published twoarticles with the sole purpose of making its readership believe that Titania is a parody. A satirical Twitter account, created to poke fun at woke politics. What a ridiculous accusation! How many Russian bots did it take to come up with that bizarre conspiracy theory? Also, who is funding The Times in order for them to go along with this charade? George Soros? Alex Jones? Donald Trump? I mean, it’s tinfoil hat stuff the like of which I have not seen since a group of fascists attempted to out me as a parody last year.
Over the past four days, I have been hard at work, investigating this sinister plot to unravel all the hard work my good friend and comrade Titania has done in her battle against fascism. I have slept very little, perhaps a mere seven hours a night. I have not eaten (except for a couple of Graze boxes, some takeout sushi, and several protein bars). I am exhausted, but I feel I have made some important breakthroughs.
As you can see here, my investigations have uncovered some shocking links between the main suspects (Lisa Graves and Andrew Doyle) and several well-known subversive figures.
I’ve never heard of either of these two shady characters before now, but after some digging, I have discovered some highly unsettling facts. In an interview Lisa Graves did with Andrew Doyle, published in Spiked on Monday, Lisa unwittingly let slip an important clue, the discovery of which left me literally shaking for several hours. In answer to the question ‘Are you Titania?’ she responds sarcastically in the negative, followed by the innocuous sentence: ‘Check out my fingers, they’re not crossed’. Now on the surface, this seems innocent enough, but to an accomplished social justice activist such as myself, it was a terrifying indication of the wheels within wheels at play here. Allow me to explain; if you take every second letter, then third, followed by the fifth letters in the final three words, arrange them into alphabetical order, rearrange them once more into their numerical opposites (according to the Mayan Calendar cycles) subtract by the first two-digit number that pops into your head when you glance sideways at a photograph of David Blaine, and then finally, convert them all back into letters using the Pentonville-Swift method… you get: ‘I AM WORKING FOR THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’.
Another blindingly obvious clue comes from the Twitter profile page of Andrew Doyle. At first, I could find nothing troubling in his bio, apart from the word ‘comedian’. But then I turned my attention to his AVI. After zooming in 80 percent round the hairline area, it became apparent that Photoshop had been at work. I could tell this because I could clearly see that pixels had been manipulated. The purpose of this? Hmmm. I pondered for a moment. Then it hit me; to remove something. To eradicate an item of headwear. I have taken the time to replicate what I am now 100 percent convinced the original photograph looked like before digital chicanery was employed:
From there, it was simply a matter of joining the rest of the dots to uncover an alternative network of subversive fascist influencers, which includes the likes of Jordan Peterson, Ann Coulter, Katie Hopkins, Ricky Gervais, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and – most shockingly of all – Paula Abdul.
All these people are hellbent on framing Titania as an alt-right troll. ‘But why?’ you may ask. The answer to this is very simple: they FEAR her. The truth bombs she hurls at them from her Twitter account on a daily basis are killing their authoritarian narrative. Now she has a book out, they are desperate to have her ‘unpersoned’.
Well nice try fascists, but you failed. Titania’s book is out on March 7, prepare to have your world turned upside down.
Jack doesn't say much. Joe and Mindy Kaling run interference for him the whole time.
The TL;DR version: If you are a liberal and you screw up on Twitter you get an instant warning and temporary suspension. If you are conservative we will stack up every 'violation' over time until we find a reason to ban you permanently.
Publisher reveals which comedian is behind the 'woke' parody
She is a Twitter sensation who has won 188,000 followers for her uncompromising opinions on what it takes to be a woke social justice warrior in the 21st Century.
As Titania McGrath prepares to publish her first book this week, rumours have been circulating who is really behind the parody account of the ‘radical intersectionalist poet’.
Now Chortle can reveal that stand-up Andrew Doyle has been identified as the author by publisher Little, Brown.
The comic, who also co-writes Tom Walker’s angry news reporter Jonathan Pie, was named in a document circulated at the Frankfurt Book Fair last year.
In the brochure, designed to help sell the rights to the book worldwide, the publisher wrote unequivocally: ‘In How To Be Woke, Andrew Doyle takes on the mantle of radical poet and activist Titania McGrath, who will explain why you are wrong about everything and how to become more like her. ‘
It adds: ‘Titania McGrath is the creation of Andrew Doyle, one of the UK’s foremost political satirists. He is the co-writer of internet sensation Jonathan Pie and has collaborated with Pie creator Tom Walker on numerous viral videos. Their response to Donald Trump’s election has been viewed online more than 150 million times.’
Doyle was yesterday named as a possible contender as the creator of McGrath in the Sunday Times, and when Chortle asked him about the reports, he pointed us to an article he wrote for the website Spiked.
In the piece, he said, ‘I was a little surprised by the suggestion that I was the same person’ – but did not deny the rumour.
He instead dedicated most of the column to an interview with satirist Lisa Graves, who has also been named as a prime suspect.
In the piece, she denies being the real Titania, despite having created the digital image that is her online icon.
When Doyle suggests she must know the author, Graves says: ‘Maybe I do’, she says. ‘Maybe I don’t. Who’s to say who Titania really is? In a way, Titania is all of us. Titania is me, Titania is you, Titania is Fred Dibnah. Actually, he’s dead isn’t he? But you get the general idea.’
According to Little, Brown, Titania McGrath is ‘a millennial icon on the forefront of online activism (ie, having written numerous angry tweets)… uniquely placed to guide her readers through the often bewildering array of terminology and concepts that constitute 21st century "wokeness".’
Her tweets include: ‘Hey white people. If you really want to understand your privilege, try identifying as black for a month. You wouldn’t believe the disapproving looks I get when I tell people I’m an ethnic minority’; ‘If your opinions are up for "debate" then they’re probably not that worthwhile to begin with’; and ‘We should give all newborn babies numbers rather than names until they are ready to determine their own gender identity’.
She has occasionally been mistaken for the real deal, with NatWest customer service replying to her complaint that it was inciting violence against vegans and Private Eye quoting her pretentious claim that readers should buy her book ‘for the sake of humanity’ in its Pseuds Corner.
Debate over McGrath’s identity comes after The Independent stands accused of being duped by another sockpuppet, after publishing an account of sexism and racism on the comedy circuit.
The author, Liam Evans, claimed he was an open-spot comedian, but there is no evidence that he actually exists or has ever been booked on a gig.
The newspaper has not responded to requests from comedians including Stewart Lee about whether they checked out the writer’s veracity, claiming the picture of the comedy scene portrayed by the article would ‘stoke the usual high profile alt-right commentators' sense of grievance’.
Titania McGrath’s book Woke: A Guide To Social Justice is published on Thursday. It is available from the not-very-woke Amazon for £9.35; or the more socially responsible Foyles for £12.99.
Titania McGrath: 'Queen of woke Twitter culture' sheds his online mask
When a former Oxford University postgraduate student set up a satirical Twitter account in April 2018 under the name of Titania McGrath, he had no idea of the social media storm that was to follow.
Aiming to poke fun at the “identitarian left” who use “vicious tactics to push identity politics above all else”, the parody account quickly amassed over 180,000 social media followers.
After months of speculation, the individual behind it can finally be revealed - as a 40-year-old former private school teacher with a doctorate in Early Renaissance Poetry from Wadham College, Oxford.
Dr Andrew Doyle created the account to mock today’s “woke culture” that is obsessed with gender fluidity, identity politics and hates freedom of speech.
Describing Titania McGrath as “a militant vegan who thinks she is a better poet than William Shakespeare”, Mr Doyle told The Telegraph: “Woke is the concept that everything must be inclusive, inoffensive, that you always use the correct language and that you must be hyper aware of other people’s sensitivities.
“This social justice movement is full of people who are arrogant, narcissistic and very certain in themselves. The very idea that they could be wrong doesn’t even cross their mind. That to me is incredibly funny. I thought Titania could embody all of that.
“The majority of people are desperate for this culture to be mocked. The account has become so popular because people are sick of feeling that they can’t say what they want. It used to be the case that if someone spoke out of turn, you would say that’s a bit much, apologise and everyone would move on. Now you post a screenshot on Twitter and try to get someone fired.
“Titania is staying the stuff that most people want to say.”
The satirical account has become so popular that it landed Mr Doyle a book deal. ‘Woke: A Guide to Social Justice’ is published tomorrow and has received so many pre-orders that it is already in the top 100 books on Amazon.
Named after Titania, the queen of the fairies, in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mr Doyle drew on his academic thesis when setting up the parody Twitter account.
“She is named after the queen of the fairies because I think all of this ‘woke culture’ is an utter fantasy world,” he said. “The people who promote this hyper inclusive culture are fantasists.
“They believe that racial boundaries must be strictly policed, so any cultural appropriation is completely off bounds. But gender is totally 100 per cent fluid and you can pick and choose as you please. This stuff is completely incoherent and the stuff of fantasy. So I think it’s quite appropriate that she is named after the queen of the fairies.”
Titania McGrath’s jokes are often labelled as offensive by Twitter and have resulted in the account being banned four times.
However, Mr Doyle said that the social media ban is what helped his fictional character become so popular, adding: “What really kicked it off though was when it was banned by Twitter.
“It got to about 40,000 followers and then it was banned. There were a lot of people complaining and within 24 hours the account was reinstated.
She got 20,000 that day when she was back. That’s when I knew that it was going to be something big. After that it has just gone up and up. It’s been very rapid.
“The best thing that happened to her was that she was banned by Twitter. If she gets banned again, which I am sure she will, then it will really help.”
I have always thought the UK government’s negative attitude towards ISIS reeks of racism and islamophobia. Why can’t we just all get along? 7:53 am - 20 Feb 2019
So what if Shamima Begum joined ISIS when she was 15? My sister got caught stealing a croissant on her gap year in Marseille. TEENAGERS MAKE MISTAKES 10:57 am - 17 Feb 2019
Selflessly, I have written the definitive guide to social justice. Those who fail to buy a copy will be guilty of hate crime. 8:33 am - 28 Feb 2019
Any police force that recruits officers on the basis of aptitude and qualifications is basically the gestapo. 2:57 pm - 23 Feb 2019
Karl Lagerfeld has died. What would be a respectful period of time to wait until we start trawling through his old tweets for any signs of racism or transphobia? 30 minutes, perhaps? 4:10 am - 19 Feb 2019
I despise whiteness. Literally nothing about me is white except for my skin colour. 5:02 pm - 13 Feb 2019
Universities exist to protect young people from microaggressions, not to introduce them to new “ideas”. 10:55 am - 11 Feb 2019
The concept of freedom of speech originated in Ancient Greece around the end of the fifth century BC. And you’re telling me it’s not outdated? 10:49 am - 22 Jan 2019