Jackie Kay, 2013
9 November 1961 |
|Alma mater||University of Stirling|
|Occupation||Professor of creative writing at Newcastle University|
|Known for||Poet and novelist|
Jackie Kay was born in Edinburgh in 1961 to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father. She was adopted as a baby by a white Scottish couple, Helen and John Kay, and grew up in Bishopbriggs, a suburb of Glasgow, in a 1950s-built housing estate in a small Wimpey house, which her adoptive parents had bought new in 1957. They adopted Kay in 1961 having already adopted Jackie's brother, Maxwell, about two years earlier. Jackie and Maxwell also have siblings who were brought up by their biological parents. Her adoptive father worked for the Communist Party full-time and stood for Member of Parliament, and her adoptive mother was the Scottish secretary of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In August 2007, Jackie Kay was the subject of the fourth episode of the BBC Radio 4 series The House I Grew Up In, in which she talked about her childhood.
Initially harbouring ambitions to be an actress, she decided to concentrate on writing after Alasdair Gray, a Scottish artist and writer, read her poetry and told her that writing was what she should be doing. She studied English at the University of Stirling and her first book of poetry, the partially autobiographical The Adoption Papers, was published in 1991 and won the Saltire Society Scottish First Book Award. This is a multiply voiced collection of poetry that deals with identity, race, nationality, gender, and sexuality from the perspectives of three women: an adopted biracial child, her adoptive mother, and her biological mother. Her other awards include the 1994 Somerset Maugham Award for Other Lovers, and the Guardian First Book Award Fiction Prize for Trumpet, based on the life of American jazz musician Billy Tipton, born Dorothy Tipton, who lived as a man for the last fifty years of his life.
Kay writes extensively for stage (in 1988 her play Twice Over was the first by a Black writer to be produced by Gay Sweatshop Theatre Group), screen and for children. Her drama The Lamplighter is an exploration of the Atlantic slave trade. It was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in March 2007 and published in poem form in 2008.
In 2010 she published Red Dust Road, an account of her search for her natural parents. Her biological parents met when her father was a student at Aberdeen University and her mother was a nurse.
Jackie Kay was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) on 17 June 2006. She is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and Cultural Fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University. Kay lives in Manchester. She took part in the Bush Theatre's 2011 project Sixty-Six Books, with a piece based upon a book of the King James Bible. In October 2014, it was announced that she had been appointed as the Chancellor of the University of Salford, and that she would be the University ‘Writer in Residence’ from 1 January 2015.
Awards and honours
|Jackie Kay, vimeo format|
- 2011 Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book of the Year Award, Red Dust Road
- 2011 PEN/Ackerley Prize (shortlist), Red Dust Road
- 2011 Costa Book Awards (shortlist), Fiere
- 2011 Scottish Book of the Year (shortlist), Fiere
- 2009 Scottish Book of the Year (shortlist), The Lamplighter
- 2007 British Book Awards deciBel Writer of the Year
- 2003 Cholmondeley Award
- 2000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (shortlist), Trumpet
- 1998 Guardian Fiction Prize, Trumpet
- 1994 Somerset Maugham Award, Other Lovers
- 1992 Scottish First Book of the Year, The Adoption Papers
- 1991 Eric Gregory Award
- The Adoption Papers, Bloodaxe Books, 1991, ISBN 9781852241568 (poetry)
- Other Lovers, Bloodaxe Books, 1993, ISBN 9781852242534 (poetry)
- Off Colour, Bloodaxe, 1998, ISBN 9781852244200 (poetry)
- Trumpet (fiction – 1998); Random House Digital, Inc., 2011, ISBN 9780307560810
- The Frog who dreamed she was an Opera Singer, Bloomsbury Children's Books, 1998, ISBN 9780747538660
- Two's Company, Puffin Books, 1994, ISBN 9780140369526
- Why Don't You Stop Talking (fiction – 2002); Pan Macmillan, 2012, ISBN 9781447206729
- Strawgirl, Macmillan Children's, 2002, ISBN 9780330480635
- Life Mask, Bloodaxe, 2005, ISBN 9781852246914 (poetry)
- Wish I Was Here (fiction – 2006); Pan Macmillan, 2012, ISBN 9781447206736
- The Lamplighter, Bloodaxe Books Limited, 2008, ISBN 9781852248048
- Red Cherry Red, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2007, ISBN 9780747589792
- Darling, Bloodaxe Books, 2007, ISBN 9781852247775
- Maw Broon Monologues (2009) (shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry)
- Red Dust Road: An Autobiographical Journey. Atlas and Company. 2011. ISBN 9781935633358. (memoir)
- Fiere, Pan Macmillan, 2011, ISBN 9781447206576 (poetry)
- Reality, Reality, Pan Macmillan, 2012, ISBN 9781447204404
Some other poetry used in GCSE Edexcel Syllabus
- Brendon Gallacher
- Twice Through the Heart – opera with libretto by Kay.
- "The House I Grew Up In, featuring Jackie Kay". The House I Grew Up In. 27 August 2007. BBC Radio 4.
- Jackie Kay, "My old man: a voyage around our fathers", The Observer, 15 June 2008.
- "Gay Sweatshop Theatre Company", Unfinished Histories – Recording the History of Alternative Theatre.
- "BBC Radio 3". Bbc.co.uk. 25 March 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- Bloodaxe Books, 2008; ISBN 978-1-85224-804-8
- "Prof. Jackie Kay: Professor of Creative Writing". Newcastle University.
- "Jackie Kay – Hadassah in response to Esther", Sixty-Six Books, Bush Theatre.
- "Appointment of new Chancellor", University of Salford, Greater Manchester, 17 October 2014.
- 9 April 2013, Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, Georgetown University.
- "Jackie Kay". British Council Literature. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
- Transcript of interview with Ramona Koval, The Book Show, ABC Radio National, 4 September 2008, recorded at Edinburgh International Book Festival, 2008
- Poetry Archive: Jackie Kay
- Biography, bibliography, prizes and awards, critical review and related links
- Streamed poetry read by Jackie Kay
- Bibliography, prizes and awards
- Guardian article (01/2002)
- Books From Scotland interview (12/2005)
- Free Verse interview (2002/01)
- Bold Type interview
- Audio interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2006.