Kate Atkinson: Biography

Kate Atkinson

20 dec 1951

Kate Atkinson was born in York, England to a family of shopkeepers. She enjoyed writing from an early age and went off to study English Literature, gaining an MA from the University of Dundee in 1974. She subsequently studied towards a PhD, choosing to focus on postmodernist American short stories and their historical contexts, but she never completed the qualification. She has worked in a wide variety of different professions, including working as a carer, a teacher and a legal secretary before becoming a full time author.

In interviews, Kate Atkinson has spoken about how everything that she has ever read has inspired her in some way to be a writer, as she has had to have an idea of what good writing looks like in order to produce it herself. She has singled out the writers that she studied for her PhD: the postmodernist authors and poets writing in the ‘60s as major influences, especially for her novel Life After Life.

Kate Atkinson has written a total of 9 novels, a play and a collection of short stories. Her four novels about former police inspector turned private investigator, Jackson Brodie, were adapted for screen by the BBC in a series called Case Histories which was very well received. Her most celebrated work is the novel Life After Life which won the Costa Book Award in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize. It tells the story of the many possible lives of the protagonist, based on the different choices and coincidences throughout her life. She published a companion to Life After Life, called A God In Ruins, in 2015 which has also been very well received.

In 2011, Atkinson was awarded an MBE in the Birthday Honours List for her services to literature. She was also voted Waterstones Author of the Year in 2011, and continues to be highly regarded and critically acclaimed. She now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland.