Ali Smith

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Ali Smith
Born August 1962 (age 54)
Inverness, Scotland
Occupation Novelist
Nationality Scottish
Alma mater University of Aberdeen
Period 1995–present
Partner Sarah Wood

Ali Smith CBE FRSL (born August 1962 in Inverness) is a Scottish writer.

She was born to working-class parents,[1] raised in a council house in Inverness and now lives in Cambridge.[2][3] She studied at the University of Aberdeen and then at Newnham College, Cambridge, for a PhD that she never finished.[1] She worked as a lecturer at University of Strathclyde until she fell ill with CFS/ME. Following this she became a full-time writer[4] and now writes for The Guardian, The Scotsman, and the Times Literary Supplement.[5] Openly gay,[6] she lives in Cambridge with her partner filmmaker Sarah Wood.[7]

In 2007 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature [8]

In 2009, she donated the short story Last (previously published in the Manchester Review Online) to Oxfam's 'Ox-Tales' project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Her story was published in the 'Fire' collection.[9]

Smith was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to literature.[10][11]

Short story collections[edit]



  • "Shire" (2013), with images by Sarah Wood: short stories and autobiographical writing. Full Circle Editions.


Other projects[edit]

  • Ali Smith partnered with the Scottish band Trashcan Sinatras and wrote the lyrics to a song called "Half An Apple", a love song about keeping half an apple spare for a loved one who is gone. The song was released on 5 March 2007, on the album Ballads of the Book.[3]
  • In 2008 Ali Smith produced The Book Lover a collection of her favourite writing including pieces from Sylvia Plath, Muriel Spark, Grace Paley, and Margaret Atwood. It also includes work from lesser known writers like Joseph Roth and Clarice Lispector.[25]
  • In 2011 she wrote a short memoir for The Observer in their "Once upon a life" series 'Looking back on her life, writer Ali Smith returns to the moment of conception to weave a poignant and funny memoir of an irreverent father, a weakness for Greek musicals and a fateful border crossing' online text here.
  • In October 2012, she read a sermon at Manchester Cathedral to guests and students, followed by a book signing
  • In 2013, Smith published Artful, a book based on her lectures on European comparative literature delivered the previous year at Saint Anne's College, Oxford. Much more than a work of literary criticism, it is a book about what art can do. Artful was well-received, with one reviewer commenting that, "...her new book, in which she tugs at God’s sleeve, ruminates on clowns, shoplifts used books, dabbles in Greek and palavers with the dead, is a stunner."[26]
  • On 14 May 2013 Ali Smith gave the inaugural Harriet Martineau lecture, in celebration of Norwich, UNESCO City of Literature.[27]
  • Ali Smith is also a patron of the Visual Verse online anthology and her piece Untitled, written in response to an image by artist Rupert Jessop, appears in the November 2014 edition.[28]
  • On 10 September 2015 Ali Smith was nominated Honorary Fellow by Goldsmiths, University of London.
  • In 2011 she contributed a short story "Why Holly Berries are as Red as Roses" to an anthology supporting The Woodland Trust. The anthology - Why Willows Weep - has so far helped The Woodland Trust plant approximately 50,000 trees, and is to be re-released in paperback format in 2016.


  1. ^ a b Ali Smith: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. London: Bloomsbury. 2013. pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-1-4411-5990-8. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Ali Smith". Contemporary Writers in the UK. The British Council. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  3. ^ a b Matthews, Elizabeth (30 March 2007). "Novel approach struck a chord with Inverness writer". The Inverness Courier. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  4. ^ a b "Ali Smith". Guardian News and Media Limited. 22 July 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Winterson, Jeanette (25 April 2003). "Ali Smith". The Times. Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  8. ^ "Royal Society of Literature All Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  9. ^ Oxfam: Ox-Tales
  10. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 61092. p. N10. 31 December 2014.
  11. ^ 2015 New Year Honours List
  12. ^ Guest, Katy (3 October 2008). "The First Person and Other Stories, By Ali Smith". The Independent. Archived from the original on 18 April 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2009. 
  13. ^ Buksh, Ayshea (30 March 2007). "School actors take centre stage". BBC London. Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  14. ^ Dawson Scott, Robert; Maxwell, Dominic (30 July 2007). "The 20 must-see acts at the Edinburgh Fringe". London: The Times. Retrieved 2009-02-28. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Sundial Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year". Scottish Arts Council. Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  17. ^ Books of the year 2011
  18. ^ "Jim Crace makes Goldsmiths Prize shortlist". BBC news. 1 October 2013. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Shortlist 2013". Goldsmiths Prize. 1 October 2013. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Man Booker Prize: Howard Jacobson makes shortlist". BBC News. 9 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  21. ^ Lusher, Adam (3 June 2015). "Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2015 winner: Ali Smith triumphs with How to Be Both". The Independent. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  22. ^ "New Statesman | The shortlist for the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize has been announced". New Statesman. 1 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  23. ^ "Ali Smith wins Goldsmiths Prize for How to be Both". BBC News. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  24. ^ a b
  25. ^
  26. ^ A Light to Read By, by Leah Hager Cohen in The New York Times, February 1, 2013
  27. ^ Full text: "Brick: a literary journal" (Number 92, Winter 2014, pp. 9–27); extract on line at
  28. ^ "Untitled by Ali Smith". Visual Verse: Anthology of Art and Words. Retrieved 24 November 2014.  External link in |website= (help)