Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

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Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
First edition
Author Jeanette Winterson
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Semi-autobiographical
Publisher Pandora Press
Publication date
21 March 1985
Media type Print (Paperback)
ISBN 0-8021-3516-1
OCLC 15792328
Followed by Boating for Beginners

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a novel by Jeanette Winterson published in 1985, which she subsequently adapted into a BBC television drama of the same name. It is a bildungsroman about a lesbian girl who grows up in an English Pentecostal community.


The book and subsequent BBC mini series are semi-autobiographical and are generally based on Winterson's life in Accrington, Lancashire, where she lived after moving from her birth town Manchester. A parallel non-fictional account of her life at this time is given in her 2011 memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?[1]


  • The novel won Winterson the Whitbread Award for a First Novel in 1985.
  • Jeanette Winterson does not consider this novel to be a lesbian novel, arguing, 'I've never understood why straight fiction is supposed to be for everyone, but anything with a gay character or that includes gay experience is only for queers.'[2]
  • Although the protagonist bears the author's first name, John Mullan has argued that it is neither an autobiography nor a memoir, but a Künstlerroman.[3]


A television adaptation of the book was made and aired by the BBC in 1990, starring Charlotte Coleman and Geraldine McEwan, which won the Prix Italia in 1991.[4]

The book was released on cassette by BBC Audiobooks in 1990, also read by Coleman.[5]


  1. ^ Brightwell, Laura (July 30, 2012). "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (review)". Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  2. ^ Winterson, Jeanette. "Interview on Jeanette Winterson's official site". Retrieved August 20, 2010. 
  3. ^ 'True stories', John Mullan, The Guardian, 27 October 2007
  4. ^ Prix Italia, Winners 1949 - 2010, RAI
  5. ^ ISBN 978-0-563-41070-6

Further reading[edit]

  • Bentley, Nick. "Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit". In Contemporary British Fiction (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008), 108-117. ISBN 978-0-7486-2420-1.