||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2011)|
|Joan Alison Smith|
27 August 1953 |
|Alma mater||University of Reading|
|Spouse(s)||Francis Wheen (1985–1993)|
|Partner(s)||Denis MacShane (2003–2010)|
Joan Alison Smith (born 27 August 1953) is an English novelist, journalist and human rights activist, who is a former chair of the Writers in Prison committee in the English section of International PEN.
Life and work
The daughter of a park superintendent, Smith was educated at a state school before reading Latin at the University of Reading in the early 1970s. After a spell as a journalist in local radio in Manchester, she joined the staff of the Sunday Times in 1979 and stayed at the newspaper until 1984, although Smith still contributes book reviews, usually on crime fiction, to the publication. She has had a regular column in the The Guardian's Weekend supplement, also freelancing for the newspaper and has contributed to The Independent, the Independent on Sunday, and the New Statesman.
In her non-fiction Smith displays a commitment to atheism, feminism and republicanism; she has travelled extensively and this is reflected in her articles. She is scornful of popular culture and once gave away her television set to her ex-husband, although she acquired a new set almost a decade later.
In November 2011 she gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press and media standards following the telephone hacking practised by the News of the World. She testified that she considered celebrities thought they could control press content if they put themselves into the public domain when, in reality the opposite was more likely. She repeated a claim that she has persistently adhered to in her writings that the press is misogynistic.
Although Smith was opposed to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, disputing the false claims about the Saddam Hussein regime's possession of Weapon of mass destruction, she has taken a different view during the Syrian civil war. As a consequence of the Syrian refugee crisis, and the 2013 Ghouta attacks using chemical weapons, she has called for military invention.
Outside the UK, Smith is probably best known for the Loretta Lawson series of crime novels which were published between 1987 and 1995. What Will Survive (2007) is a novel set in Lebanon in 1997 concerning a journalist's investigation into the death of a model and anti-landmine campaigner.
She is a keen supporter of Classics in state schools, describing the 1997-2010 Labour government's failure to act on the matter as "hardly their finest hour" and is a patron of The Iris Project. Smith is a supporter of the political organisation, Republic and an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society.
Smith was married to journalist Francis Wheen between 1985 and 1993.
She had a relationship with Denis MacShane, a British Labour Party politician at the time. On 25 May 2009, during the expenses scandal of 2009 Smith wrote an article for The Guardian titled "I am sick of my country and this hysteria over MPs" objecting to the furore over MPs' expenses which she cited as an example of bullying in public life, stating that her (then) partner was an (unnamed) MP.
The couple subsequently split up in 2010 after seven years together; MacShane has subsequently faced a Metropolitan Police investigation into his expenses, and was forced to resign his seat.
- Joan Smith (1985). Clouds of Deceit: Deadly Legacy of Britain's Bomb Tests. Faber. ISBN 0-571-13628-1.
- Joan Smith (1989). Misogynies: Reflections on Myths and Malice. Faber. ISBN 0-571-15451-4.
- Joan Smith (1996). Hungry for You: From Cannibalism to Seduction - A Book of Food. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 0-7011-6217-1.
- Joan Smith (1998). Different for Girls: How Culture Creates Women. Vintage. ISBN 0-09-959411-0.
- Joan Smith (2001). Moralities: How to End the Abuse of Money and Power in the 21st Century. Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-9409-6.
Loretta Lawson novels
- Joan Smith (1987). A Masculine Ending. Faber. ISBN 0-571-14751-8.
- Joan Smith (1988). Why Aren't They Screaming?. Faber. ISBN 0-571-15187-6.
- Joan Smith (1990). Don't Leave ME This Way. Faber. ISBN 0-571-14102-1.
- Joan Smith (1993). What Men Say. Chatto & Windus. ISBN 0-7011-5793-3.
- Joan Smith (1995). Full Stop. Chatto and Windus. ISBN 0-7011-6000-4.
- Joan Smith "I am an atheist. Should I wear a big flashing sign on my forehead?" The Independent, 22 October 2006
- "Letters: Harsh judgments on the pope and religion". The Guardian (London). 15 September 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
- Joan Smith "Children pay for our failure over Syria", The Independent on Sunday, 25 August 2013
- Joan Smith "MPs are scarred by the war in Iraq", The Independent on Sunday, 1 September 2013
- Kay, Richard (3 December 2007). "Camilla is rallying the troops". Daily Mail (London).
- Smith, Joan (25 May 2009). "I am sick of my country and this hysteria over MPs". The Guardian (London).
- Maxine Frith (7 November 2012). "That ol' MacShane magic". Evening Standard. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
- Joan Smith "I don't do retiring and deferential", Independent on Sunday, 11 April 2004
- Joan Smith "Rushdie's gong almost made me ask for my MBE back", Independent on Sunday, 24 June 2007