The Hon. Emma Christina Tennant FRSL (born 20 October 1937) is a British novelist and editor. She is known for a postmodern approach to her fiction, which is often imbued with fantasy or magic. Several of her novels give a feminist or dreamlike twist to classic stories, such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. She has also published work under the name Catherine Ayde.
Tennant is of Scottish extraction, the daughter of Christopher Grey Tennant, 2nd Baron Glenconner and Elizabeth Lady Glenconner (née Powell). She is the niece of Edward Wyndham Tennant and Stephen Tennant, and the half-sister of Colin Tennant, 3rd Baron Glenconner.
Born in London, she was educated at St Paul's Girls' School and spent the World War II years and her childhood summers at the family's faux Gothic mansion The Glen in Peeblesshire. Her family also owned estates in Trinidad. Tennant remembers her father as a mix of rage and benevolence, and these memories may have influenced her fiction.
Tennant grew up in the modish London of the 1950s and 1960s. She worked as a travel writer for Queen magazine and an editor for Vogue, publishing her first novel, The Colour of Rain, under a pseudonym when she was twenty-six. Between 1975 and 1979, she edited a literary magazine, Bananas, which helped launch the careers of several young novelists.
A large number of books by Tennant have followed: thrillers, children’s books, fantasies, and several revisionist takes on classic novels, including a sequel to Pride and Prejudice called Pemberley. In later years, she began to treat her own life in such books as Girlitude and Burnt Diaries (both published in 1999), the second of which details her affair with Ted Hughes. The French Dancer's Bastard, which recounts the life of Adele, the daughter of Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre, was published in October 2006. The Autobiography of the Queen, written with Hilary Bailey, was published in October 2007.
Tennant has been married four times, including to the journalist and author Christopher Booker between 1963 and 1968 and the political writer Alexander Cockburn between 13 December 1968 and 1973. She has two daughters and a son, author Matthew Yorke. In April 2008, she married her partner of 33 years, Tim Owens, saying it was for tax reasons.
Other notable members of the family
- The Colour of Rain (as Catherine Aydy), London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1964.
- The Time of the Crack, London: Cape, 1973; as The Crack, London: Penguin, 1978.
- The Last of the Country House Murders, London: Cape, 1974; NewYork, Nelson, 1976.
- Hotel de Dream, London: Gollancz, 1976.
- The Bad Sister, London: Gollancz; New York: Coward McCann, 1978.
- Wild Nights, London: Cape, 1979; New York: Harcourt Brace, 1980.
- Alice Fell, London: Cape, 1980.
- Queen of Stones, London: Cape, 1982.
- Woman Beware Woman, London" Cape, 1983; as The Half-Mother, Boston: Little Brown, 1985.
- Black Marina, London: Faber: 1985.
- The Adventures of Robina, by Herself, London: Faber, 1986; New York:, Persea, 1987. Series: The Cycle of the Sun The House of Hospitalities, London: Viking, 1987.
- A Wedding of Cousins, London: Viking, 1988.
- The Magic Drum, London: Viking, 1989.
- Two Women of London: The Strange Case of Ms. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde, London: Faber, 1989.
- Sisters and Strangers, London: Grafton, 1990.
- Faustine, London: Faber: 1991.
- Pemberley; or, Pride and Prejudice Continued, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993; as Pemberley: A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1993.
- Tess, London: HarperCollins, 1993.
- An Unequal Marriage; or, Pride and Prejudice Twenty Years Later, London: Sceptre; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.
- Travesties, London and Boston: Faber and Faber, 1995.
- Emma in Love: Jane Austen's Emma Continued, London: Fourth Estate, 1996.
- Strangers: A Family Romance, New York" New Directions, 1999.
- Burnt Diaries, Edinburgh: Canongate, 1999.
- Literary Encyclopedia article on Emma Tennant
- Canongate Books biography of Emma Tennant
- Emma Tennant bibliography
- Lesley McDowell, "Two sides to every story - Emma Tennant Interview", The Scotsman, 31 July 2008.
- Dee O'Connell, This much I know - Emma Tennant, The Observer, 3 November 2002.
- David Smith, "How Gordon got Emma to the altar...33 years late", The Observer, 20 April 2008.