Jane Gardam

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Jane Mary Gardam OBE FRSL (born 11 July 1928) is an English writer of children's and adult fiction. She also reviews for The Spectator and The Telegraph, and writes for BBC radio. She lives in Kent, Wimbledon, and Yorkshire. She has won numerous literary awards, including the Whitbread Award twice. She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours.[1]


Jane Gardam was born in Coatham, North Yorkshire to William and Kathleen Mary Pearson, and grew up in Cumberland and the North Riding of Yorkshire. At the age of seventeen, she won a scholarship to read English at Bedford College, London now part of Royal Holloway, University of London (BA English, 1949).[2] After leaving university Gardam worked in a number of literary related jobs, starting off as a Red Cross Travelling Librarian for hospital libraries, and later a journalist.[3]

She was married to David Gardam QC and had three children, Tim, Kitty, a botanical artist who died in 2011,[4] and Tom. Tim Gardam is the Principal of St Anne's College, Oxford.

Gardam's first book was a children's novel, A Long Way From Verona, published in 1971. It won the Phoenix Award from the Children's Literature Association in 1991, recognizing the best children's book published twenty years earlier that did not win a major award.[5]

Although she did not publish her first book until she was in her 40s, she went on to become one of the most prolific novelists of her generation, with 25 books published over the past 30 years and a number of prestigious prizes to her name. She is the only writer to have won the Whitbread for best novel twice (for The Hollow Land, 1981, and The Queen of the Tambourine, 1991); she has been nominated for the Booker (for God on the Rocks, 1978); her short stories and children's fiction have also won prizes; and in 1999 she was given the Heywood Hill award for a lifetime's contribution to the enjoyment of literature. Jane Gardam is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.[6]

Although her books attract admiring reviews and literary prizes in her native England, Gardam remains an unfamiliar name to much of the American reading public.[7]

Awards and nominations[edit]


Children's books[edit]

  • A Long Way from Verona (1971)
  • A Few Fair Days (1971)
  • The Summer After the Funeral (1973)
  • Bridget and William (1981)
  • The Hollow Land (1981) Whitbread Children's Book Award (1983)
  • Horse (1982)
  • Kit (1983)
  • Kit in Boots (1986)
  • Swan (1987)
  • Through the Doll's House Door (1987)
  • Tufty Bear (1996)
  • The Kit Stories (1998)

Short stories[edit]

  • The Pangs of Love (1983)
  • Going into a Dark House (1994)
  • Missing the Midnight (1997)
  • The Green Man (1998)



  • Black Faces, White Faces (1975); David Higham Prize for Fiction (1975) — Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize (1975)
  • The Sidmouth Letters (1980)
  • The Pangs of Love and Other Stories (1983) — Katherine Mansfield Award (1984)
  • Showing the Flag and Other Stories (1989)
  • Trio: Three Stories from Cheltenham (1993)
  • Going into a Dark House (1994) — PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award (1995)
  • Missing the Midnight (1997)
  • The People on Privilege Hill (2007) — nominated for National Short Story Prize[10]


  • The Iron Coast (1994)

See also[edit]


External links[edit]