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Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson, (born 20 December 1951) is an award-winning English writer. She won the Whitbread Book of the Year prize in 1995 and, under its new name the Costa Book Awards, in 2013 and 2015 in the Novels category.


The daughter of a shopkeeper, Atkinson was born in York - York becoming the scene of several of her books. She studied English literature at the University of Dundee, gaining her master's degree in 1974. Atkinson subsequently studied for a doctorate in American literature, entitled "The post-modern American short story in its historical context". She has often spoken publicly that she failed at the viva (oral examination) stage. After leaving the university, she took on a variety of jobs from home help to legal secretary and teacher.

Atkinson has been married twice, while a student to the father of her first daughter Eve, and subsequently to the father of her second daughter Helen. She lives in Edinburgh.

Writing career

Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year and went on to be a Sunday Times bestseller. Since then, she has published another nine novels, one play, and one collection of short stories. A series of four novels, starting with Case Histories, has featured the character of Jackson Brodie as a private investigator and former police inspector.

Her work is often celebrated for its wit, wisdom and subtle characterisation, and the surprising twists and plot turns. She has frequently criticised the media's coverage of her work – when she won the Whitbread award, for example, it was the fact that she was a "single mother" who lived outside London that received the most attention.

In 2009, she donated the short story "Lucky We Live Now" to Oxfam's Ox-Tales project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Atkinson's story was published in the Earth collection.

In March 2010, Atkinson appeared at the York Literature Festival, giving a world-premier reading from an early chapter from her novel Started Early, Took My Dog (2010), which is set mainly in the English city of Leeds.

Atkinson was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours for services to literature.

Published works


  • Behind the Scenes at the Museum (1995) – winner of the 1995 Whitbread first novel and Book of the Year Prize
  • Human Croquet (1997)
  • Emotionally Weird (2000)
  • Life After Life (2013)  – winner of the 2013 Costa novel award
  • A God in Ruins (2015)  – winner of the 2015 Costa novel award
  • Transcription (2018)

Novels featuring Jackson Brodie

  • Case Histories (2004)
  • One Good Turn (2006)
  • When Will There Be Good News? (2008)
  • Started Early, Took My Dog (2010)



  • Abandonment (2000)

Story collections

  • Not the End of the World (2002)

Television adaptations

The four Jackson Brodie novels have been adapted by other writers for the BBC under the series titled Case Histories, featuring Jason Isaacs as Brodie.

In 2015 in the United States, Shonda Rhimes was in the process of developing a pilot called The Catch, based on a treatment written by Atkinson, and starring Mireille Enos.

Awards and honours

  • 1995 Whitbread Awards (Book of the Year), Behind the Scenes at the Museum
  • 2009 Crime Thriller Award for The CWA Gold Dagger: When Will There Be Good News? (nominated)
  • 2009 British Book Awards, Richard and Judy Bookclub Winner, When Will There Be Good News?
  • 2013 Costa Book Awards (Novel category), Life After Life
  • 2014 Walter Scott Prize shortlist for Life After Life
  • 2014 South Bank Sky Arts Award for Life after Life
  • 2015 Costa Book Awards (Novel category), A God In Ruins

Personal life

Atkinson lived in Whitby, North Yorkshire, for a time, but now lives in Edinburgh near the authors JK Rowling, Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith.

See also


External links

  • Official website
  • Kate Atkinson at British Council: Literature
  • One Good Turn Reviews at Metacritic
  • Kate Atkinson at the Internet Book List
  • Kate Atkinson on IMDb
  • Kate Atkinson talking about One Good Turn at
  • John Mullan talks to Kate Atkinson about Behind the Scenes at the Museum for The Guardian Book Club podcast

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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