Jane Gardam: Biography

Jane Gardam

11 jul 1928

Jane Gardam is one of the most prolific novelists of her generation, and the only writer to have won the Whitbread for best novel twice (for The Hollow Land, 1981, and The Queen of the Tambourine, 1991). Among her other award winning works are her first collection of short stories, Black Faces, White Faces (1975) and her first novel, God on the Rocks (1978). Several of her works have been adapted for television and radio. She has published one non-fiction book about Yorkshire during the time of her childhood, entitled The Iron Coast (1994).

Gardam was born and raised in Yorkshire and at age seventeen won a scholarship to read English at Bedford College, London (now part of Royal Holloway, University of London), where she earned a BA in English in 1949. Among her occupations after college were a travelling librarian for the Red Cross and a journalist.

Her first book was a children’s novel, A Long Way From Verona, which was published in 1971 and won the Phoenix Award from the Children’s Literature Association in 1991. Overall, she has published twelve children’s books, four short stories, ten novels, nine collections, and one non-fiction book.

A member of PEN and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Jane Gardam is married and has two sons, Tom and Tim (who is the Principal of St. Anne’s College at Oxford). Her daughter Kitty was a botanical artist and died in 2011. Gardam regards her work as “the only way to live for me, to be happy” (The Guardian, 10/1/2011).