Born and raised in Stirling in central Scotland to a mother who worked as a civil servant and a father in science, Honeyman was a voracious reader in her childhood, visiting the library "a ridiculous number of times a week".
She studied French language and literature at Glasgow University, before continuing her education at the University of Oxford for a postgraduate course in French poetry. However, she decided that an academic career was not for her and started a string of "backroom jobs", first as a civil servant in economic development and then as an administrator at Glasgow University.
While working as an administrator, Honeyman enrolled in a Faber Academy writing course, submitting the first three chapters of what would become Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine to a competition for unpublished fiction by female writers, run by Cambridge's Lucy Cavendish College. The novel, published in 2017, went on to earn numerous awards and wide critical acclaim.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine won the 2017 Costa First Novel Award, and since then Honeyman has been interviewed often, including by The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and Waterstones. Of her relationship with the book's titular character she told The Daily Telegraph: "Eleanor Oliphant isn't me, or anyone I know [but] of course I've felt loneliness – everybody does". In January 2018, Honeyman said she was working on a new novel, "set in a different period and location."
- "Gail Honeyman". Book Series in Order. 2019-04-07. Retrieved 2019-05-30.
- "Scots author wins prize for 'completely fantastic' first book". www.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2019-05-30.
- "Costa First Novel Award Winner 2017" (pdf). Costa Book Awards. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
- "Scottish author Gail Honeyman: Turning 40 focused my mind..." Belfast Telegraph. 21 February 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
- "Meet the New Faces of Fiction for 2017". The Guardian. 22 January 2017. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
- Armitstaid, Claire (12 January 2018). "Gail Honeyman: 'I didn't want Eleanor Oliphant to be portrayed as a victim'". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
- Woods, Judith (15 May 2018). "Gail Honeyman: 'I hope Eleanor Oliphant has helped to fuel the debate on loneliness'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 August 2018.