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Tomalin was born in London, and educated at Newnham College, Cambridge. She worked in publishing and journalism as literary editor of the New Statesman, then the Sunday Times, while bringing up her children. She has written several noted biographies. In 1974 she published her first book The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft, which won the Whitbread Book Award. Since then she has researched and written Shelley and His World (1980); Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life (1987); The Invisible Woman: The story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (1991) [ NCR, Hawthornden, James Tait Black Prize- now a film ]; Mrs Jordan's Profession (1994); Jane Austen: A Life (1997) Samuel Pepys: the Unequalled Self (2002) [ Whitbread biography and Book of the Year prizes, Pepys Society Prize, Rose Mary Crawshay Prize ]. Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man appeared in 2006, and she made a television film about Hardy, and published a collection of Hardy's poems. Her Charles Dickens: A Life was published in 2011. She also edited and introduced Mary Shelley's story for children, Maurice. A collection of her reviews, Several Strangers, appeared in 1999.
Claire Tomalin organised two exhibitions about the Regency actress Mrs Jordan at Kenwood in 1995, and about Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley in 1997. She has served on the Committee of the London Library, and as a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and the Wordsworth Trust. She is a Vice-President of the Royal Literary Fund, Royal Society of Literature and of the English PEN. Tomalin married her first husband, fellow Cambridge graduate Nicholas Tomalin, a prominent journalist, in 1955, and they had three daughters and two sons, but he was killed in the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War in 1973.
Awards and honours
- James Tait Black Memorial Prize, The Invisible Woman (1990)
- Hawthornden Prize, The Invisible Woman (1991)
- Whitbread Book Award, Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (2002)
- Rose Mary Crawshay Prize, Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (2003)
- Latham Prize of the Samuel Pepys Club, Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (2003)
- Samuel Johnson Prize, shortlist, Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (2003)
- Honorary Member Magdalene College, Cambridge (2003)
- Honorary Fellow Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge (2003), Newnham College; Cambridge (2004)
- Honorary D.Litt: UEA (2005); Birmingham (2005); Greenwich (2006); Cambridge (2007); Goldsmith (2009); Open University (2008); Roehampton (2011); Portsmouth (2012)
- Costa Book Awards (Biography), shortlist, Charles Dickens: A Life (2011)
- Charles Dickens: A Life, 2011, Penguin Books (ISBN 0-14-103693-1).
- Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man, 2007 (ISBN 978-1-594-20118-9).
- Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self, (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2002) (ISBN 0-670-88568-1 or 0-14-028234-3).
- Jane Austen: A Life, 2000 (ISBN 0-14-029690-5)
- Several Strangers; writing from three decades, 1999, Viking Books Hardcover, London (ISBN 0-670-88567-3); 2000, Penguin (ISBN 0-14-190950-1).
- Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life, (London, Viking, 1987), 1998 (ISBN 0-14-011715-6).
- Mrs. Jordan's Profession: The Story of a Great Actress and a Future King, 1995 (ISBN 0-14-015923-1).
- Shelley and His World, 1992 (ISBN 978-0-14-017152-5).
- The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens, (New York, Knopf, 1991) (ISBN 0-14-012136-6).
- The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1974), 1992 (ISBN 0-14-016761-7).
- http://www.freebmd.org.uk search on Tomalin marriages post 1953
- http://www.freebmd.org.uk search on Tomalin/Delavenay births post 1955
- 'Aida Edemariam meets Claire Tomalin' The Guardian 18 November 2006
- 'Claire Tomalin: a Life in Words' BBC World News, Entertainment, 29 Jan 2003
- Claire Tomalin at www.contemporarywriters
- An encounter with Anthony Gardner, from The Telegraph Magazine, 2003
- The Observer Profile: Claire Tomalin, by Gaby Wood, The Observer, Sunday 26 January 2003 03.49 GMT
- Claire Tomalin's own WebSite
|Awards and achievements|
|Rose Mary Crawshay Prize