Emma Donoghue

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Emma Donoghue
Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue.JPG
Emma Donoghue in Toronto on February 18, 2015
Born (1969-10-24) 24 October 1969 (age 46)
Dublin, Ireland
Occupation novelist, short story writer, playwright, literary historian
Nationality Irish, Canadian[1]

Emma Donoghue (born 24 October 1969) is an Irish-born playwright, literary historian and novelist now living in Canada. Her 2010 novel Room was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize[2] and an international best-seller. Donoghue's 1995 novel Hood won the Stonewall Book Award[3] and Slammerkin (2000) won the Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction.[4]


Donoghue was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1969.[5] The youngest of eight children, she is the daughter of Frances (Rutledge) and academic and literary critic Denis Donoghue.[1][5][6] She has a first-class honours Bachelor of Arts degree from University College Dublin (in English and French) and a PhD in English from the University of Cambridge. Her thesis was on friendship between men and women in 18th century fiction.[7] While in Cambridge she lived in a women's co-op, an experience which inspired her short story "The Welcome" (collected in Touchy Subjects).[8] In 1998 she moved to Canada and became a Canadian citizen in 2004.[1] She lives in London, Ontario with her partner and their two children.[5]


Donoghue's first novel was 1994's Stir Fry, a contemporary coming of age novel about a young Irish woman discovering her sexuality.[9] It was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in 1994.[8] This was followed in 1995 by Hood, another contemporary story, this time about an Irish woman coming to terms with the death of her girlfriend.[9] Hood won the 1997 American Library Association's Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Book Award for Literature (now known as the Stonewall Book Award for Literature).[8][10]

Slammerkin (2000) is a historical novel set in London and Wales. Inspired by an 18th-century newspaper story about a young servant who killed her employer and was executed, the protagonist is a prostitute who longs for fine clothes.[8][11] It was a finalist in the 2001 Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Fiction and was awarded the 2002 Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction (despite a lack of lesbian content).[8][12][13] Her 2007 novel, Landing, portrays a long-distance relationship between a Canadian curator and an Irish flight attendant.[14] The Sealed Letter (2008), another work of historical fiction, is based on the Codrington Affair, a scandalous divorce case that gripped Britain in 1864. The protagonist is Emily Faithfull.[15] The Sealed Letter was longlisted for the Giller Prize, and was joint winner, with Chandra Mayor's All the Pretty Girls, of the 2009 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction.

On 27 July 2010, Donoghue's novel Room was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and on 7 September 2010 it made the shortlist.[2] On 2 November 2010, it was announced that Room had been awarded the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.[16] Room was also shortlisted for the 2010 Governor General's Awards in Canada,[17] and was the winner of the Irish Book Award 2010. It was short-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2011,[18] but lost out to Tea Obreht. Donoghue later wrote the screenplay for a film version of the book, Room (2015).

Speaking at the Lesbian Lives Conference in Brighton on Sunday 13 February 2011, Donoghue revealed that her next novel would be a historical fiction based on the true story of a murdered 19th century cross-dressing frog catcher.[19] This novel, Frog Music, was published in 2014.



  • Stir Fry (1994)
  • Hood (1995)
  • Slammerkin (2000)
  • Life Mask (2004)
  • Landing (2007)
  • The Sealed Letter (2008)
  • Room (2010)
  • Frog Music (2014)

Short stories[edit]

Short story collections[edit]

  • Kissing the Witch (1997)
  • The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (2002)
  • Touchy Subjects (2006)
  • Three and a Half Deaths (2011)
  • Astray (2012)

Drama (stage)[edit]

  • I Know My Own Heart (1993) (published 2001)
  • Ladies and Gentlemen (1996) (published 1998)
  • Don't Die Wondering (2005)
  • Kissing the Witch (2000)
  • The Talk of the Town (2012)
  • Emma Donoghue: Selected Plays (published 2015)

Drama (radio)[edit]

  • Trespasses (1996)
  • Don't Die Wondering (2000)
  • Exes (2001)
  • Humans and Other Animals (2003)
  • Mix (2003)


  • Pluck (2001)
  • Room (2015)

Literary history[edit]

  • Passions Between Women: British Lesbian Culture 1668–1801 (1993)
  • We Are Michael Field (1998)
  • Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature (2010)

Works edited[edit]

  • What Sappho Would Have Said (1997)
  • The Mammoth Book Of Lesbian Short Stories (1999)

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Stoffman, Judy (13 January 2007). "Writer has a deft touch with sexual identities". Toronto Star. Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  2. ^ a b http://www.themanbookerprize.com/news/stories/1451
  3. ^ "Stonewall Book Awards List". American Library Association. 
  4. ^ Awards. Publishing Triangle http://www.publishingtriangle.org/awards.asp#Ferro. Retrieved 2 October 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ a b c "Emma Donoghue — Bio". Official site. Retrieved 2 September 2008. [dead link]
  6. ^ http://www.picador.com/blog/july-2010/the-a-z-of-emma-donoghue
  7. ^ Richards, Linda (November 2000). "Interview — Emma Donoghue". January Magazine. Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Emma Donoghue — Writings". Official site. Retrieved 5 October 2000.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  9. ^ a b Keehnen, Owen (1994). "Future Perfect: Talking With Irish Lesbian Author Emma Donoghue". glbtq.com. Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  10. ^ "Stonewall Book Awards". American Library Association. Retrieved 5 October 2009. [dead link]
  11. ^ Hagestadt, Emma; Hirst, Christopher (8 May 2001). "Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue". The Independent. Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  12. ^ Gonzalez, Alexander G. (2006). Irish women writers: an A-to-Z guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 98–101. ISBN 0-313-32883-8. 
  13. ^ O'Neill, Heather Aimee (12 January 2008). "Interview With Emma Donoghue". AfterEllen.com. Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  14. ^ Brownrigg, Sylvia (22 July 2007). "In-Flight Moves". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 October 2009. 
  15. ^ Donoghue, Emma. "The Sealed Letter: Author's Note". Picador. Picador. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ "Emma Donoghue, Kathleen Winter make GG short list". The Globe and Mail, 13 October 2010.
  18. ^ Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  19. ^ "Emma Donoghue's next novel to be set on cross-dressing, frog-catching Jeanne Bonnet". Lesbilicious.co.uk. 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2011. 

External links[edit]