Jacqueline Winspear: Biography

Jacqueline Winspear

30 apr 1955

Jacqueline Winspear is best known for her Maisie Dobbs series of detective novels. These novels follow the titular character, a psychologist and private investigator, who investigates a variety of crimes in Post-WW1 Britain. Jacqueline Winspear has published 11 novels in the Maisie Dobbs series, as well as a standalone novel titled The Care and Management of Lies, which is also set during the First World War. Several of these novels have appeared on the New York Times Bestsellers list, and her first novel, titled Maisie Dobbs, received numerous awards, including the Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and the Macavity Award for Best First Novel. It was a Publisher’s Weekly Top Ten Mystery novel in 2003.

A key influence for Jacqueline Winspear’s writing, and, in particular, the time-period in which her novels are set, was Winspear’s first-hand experience of her Grandfather’s suffering. Jacqueline Winspear’s grandfather was severely wounded at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and suffered the trauma of shellshock. In particular, Jacqueline Winspear has referred to the experience of watching her Grandfather pull shrapnel out of his wounds 50 years later after the war as a deeply influencing factor in her decision to explore post-war suffering.

Though most famous for the Maisie Dobbs series, Jacqueline Winspear is a prolific writer of personal essays, which she has said was the genre she was first passionate about writing. Winspear’s other writing efforts include regular contribution to journals on international education, and travel essays and articles. These latter include personal accounts of her experiences travelling across First World War battlefields in researching for her fiction writing. Though she was born in the United Kingdom, Jacqueline Winspear emigrated to the United States in 1990, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.