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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.
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.
Novels featuring Jackson Brodie
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
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.