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Author Profiles: Kate Atkinson - General Fiction

Author Name: Kate Atkinson

Brief Biography:

Kate Atkinson was born in York in 1951 and studied English Literature at Dundee University. After graduating in 1974, Kate researched a postgraduate doctorate on American Literature and later taught at Dundee. She began writing short stories in 1981, which extended to writing for women’s magazines after winning the 1986 Woman’s Own short story competition. Since the she has won numerous awards (see below). Kate’s first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Musuem, came in 1995. It’s set in Yorkshire and is narrated by Ruby Lennox who takes the reader through the complex history of her family, covering events of the twentieth century whilst reaching back into the past to uncover the lives of distant ancestors. Since then she produced several novels, all critically acclaimed, enthusiastically reviewed, and much enjoyed my many readers.

Kate Atkinson - Author

It is hard to categorise Kate Atkinson’s work, however it is often described as ‘tragi-comedy’. Her books are exotic and highly entertaining hybrids, frequently incorporating romance, satire, humour, hard-boiled detective fiction, and tolkeinesque sagas, and playing very effectively with shifting time and eccentric characters that feel very real. Some critics see Kate as having developed a new fiction genre: the anti-family saga. Some go as far as to compare them with a well-known Philip Larkin poem, in that her narrators find the first half of their lives ruined by parents and the second half by their children! Certainly in her books she exposes many painful truths often brushed under the carpet of family history, such as infidelity, illegitimacy, violence, sexual abuse, even incest. However, she deals with these meaty issues with humour and her books are wonderful.

Kate Atkinson currently lives in Edinburgh, and is an occasional contributor to newspapers and magazines. She has two grown-up daughters.


Behind the Scenes at the Museum, 1995, publishers Doubleday and Black Swan
Human Croquet, 1997, publishers Doubleday and Black Swan
Abandonment (A Play), 2000, publisher Nick Hern Books.
Emotionally Weird, 2000, publishers Doubleday and Black Swan
Not the End of the World (Collection of short stories), 2002, publishers Doubleday and Black Swan
Case Histories, 2004, publishers Doubleday and Black Swan
One Good Turn, 2006, publishers Doubleday and Black Swan
When Will There Be Good News?, 2009, publisher Black Swan

Kate Atkinson has also written two plays for the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh: a short play, Nice (1996), and Abandonment, which premiered as part of the Edinburgh Festival in August 2000.

Prizes and Awards:

1986 Woman's Own Short Story Competition
1990 Bridport Short Story Prize (runner-up)
1993 Ian St James Award (short story competition) with Karmic Mothers
1995 Whitbread Book of the Year with Behind the Scenes at the Museum
1996 Lire Book of the Year (France) with Behind the Scenes at the Museum
1996 Yorkshire Post Book Award (Best First Work) with Behind the Scenes at the Museum
1997 E. M. Forster Award (American Academy of Arts and Letters)
2004 Whitbread Novel Award (shortlist) with Case Histories
2007 British Book Awards Crime Thriller of the Year (shortlist) with One Good Turn

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