5 February 1942
Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England
|Alma mater||King's College London|
|Notable work(s)||The Woman in Black
The Mist in the Mirror
I'm the King of the Castle
|Spouse(s)||Stanley Wells (m. 1975 - present)|
Susan Hill CBE (born 5 February 1942) is an English author of fiction and non-fiction works. Her novels include The Woman in Black, The Mist in the Mirror and I'm the King of the Castle for which she received the Somerset Maugham Award in 1971. She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to literature.
Early life and education
Hill was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Her home town was later referred to in her novel A Change for the Better (1969) and in some short stories like Cockles and Mussels.
She attended Scarborough Convent School, where she became interested in theatre and literature. Her family left Scarborough in 1958 and moved to Coventry where her father worked in car and aircraft factories. Hill states that she attended a girls’ grammar school, Barr's Hill. Her fellow pupils included Jennifer Page, the first Chief Executive of the Millennium Dome. At Barrs Hill, she took A levels in English, French, History, and Latin, proceeding to an English degree at King's College London. By this time, she had already written her first novel, The Enclosure, which was published by Hutchinson in her first year at the university. The novel was criticised by The Daily Mail for its sexual content, with the suggestion that writing in this style was unsuitable for a "schoolgirl".
Her next novel Gentleman and Ladies was published in 1968. This was followed in quick succession by A Change for the Better, I'm the King of the Castle, The Albatross and other stories, Strange Meeting, The Bird of Night, A Bit of Singing and Dancing and In the Springtime of the Year, all written and published between 1968 and 1974.
In 1975, she married Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells, and they moved to Stratford upon Avon. Their first daughter, author Jessica Ruston, was born in 1977, and their second daughter, Clemency, was born in 1985. A middle daughter, Imogen, was born prematurely, and died at the age of five weeks. Hill has recently founded her own publishing company, Long Barn Books, which has published one work of fiction per year.
Hill's novels are written in a descriptive gothic style, especially her ghost story The Woman in Black, which was published in 1983. She has expressed an interest in the traditional English ghost story, which relies on suspense and atmosphere to create its impact, similar to the classic ghost stories by Montague Rhodes James and Daphne du Maurier. The novel was turned into a play in 1987 and continues to run in the West End of London, joining the group of plays that have run for over twenty years. It was also made into a television film in 1989, and a theatrical film by Hammer Film Productions in 2012. She wrote another ghost story with similar ingredients, The Mist in the Mirror in 1992, and a sequel to du Maurier's Rebecca entitled Mrs. De Winter in 1993.
In 2004, Hill began a series of crime novels featuring detective Simon Serrailler, entitled The Various Haunts of Men (2004). This was followed by The Pure in Heart (2005), The Risk of Darkness (2006), The Vows of Silence (2009), Shadows in the Street (2010), and The Betrayal of Trust (2011).
- 1971 Somerset Maugham Award I'm the King of the Castle
- 1972 Whitbread Novel Award The Bird of Night
- 1972 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize The Albatross
- 1988 Nestlé Smarties Book Prize (Gold Award) (6–8 years category) Can It Be True?: A Christmas Story
- The London Gazette: . 16 June 2012.
- "CBE". Retrieved 2012-06-15.
- "About Susan - Autobiography of author Susan Hill". Archived from the original on 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-07-28.
- "Biography (part 2)". www.susan-hill.com. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- Freeman, Hadley (18 October 2003). "Cotswold chameleon". The Guardian (UK) (Guardian News and Media Ltd). Retrieved 2008-03-20.
- Hill, Susan: The Beacon, dust jacket, Chatto & Windus, 2008.
- Long Barn Books website
- Radio 4, Start the Week, 19 December 2011
- Official website
- Susan Hill at British Council: Literature
- A writer's life: Susan Hill from The Daily Telegraph
- Contemporary Literary Criticism : Susan Hill
- Radio Drama by Susan Hill