Jo Walton

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Jo Walton
Jo Walton in 2014
Jo Walton in 2014
Born1964 (age 57–58)
Aberdare, Wales, UK
GenreFantasy, science fiction, alternate history
SpouseEmmet A. O'Brien

Jo Walton (born 1964) is a Welsh and Canadian fantasy and science fiction writer and poet.[1] She is best known for the fantasy novel Among Others, which won the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 2012, and Tooth and Claw, a Victorian era novel with dragons which won the World Fantasy Award in 2004. Other works by Walton include the Small Change series, in which she blends alternate history with the cozy mystery genre, comprising Farthing, Ha'penny and Half a Crown. Her fantasy novel Lifelode won the 2010 Mythopoeic Award, and her alternate history My Real Children received the 2015 Tiptree Award.

Walton is also known for her non-fiction, including book reviews and SF commentary in the magazine A collection of her articles were published in What Makes This Book So Great (2014), which won the Locus Award for Best Non-Fiction.


Walton was born in 1964 in Aberdare, a town in the Cynon Valley of Wales.[1][2][3] She went to Park School in Aberdare, then Aberdare Girls' Grammar School. She lived for a year in Cardiff, went to Howell's School Llandaff and finished her education at Oswestry School in Shropshire and at the University of Lancaster. She lived in London for two years and lived in Lancaster until 1997. She then moved to Swansea, where she lived until she moved to Canada in 2002.[4] Walton is Welsh-Canadian.[1]

Walton speaks Welsh: "It's the second language of my family of origin, my grandmother was a well known Welsh scholar and translator, I studied it in school from five to sixteen, I have a ten year old's fluency on grammar and vocab but no problem whatsoever with pronunciation."[5]

Writing career[edit]

Walton has been writing since she was 13, but her first novel was not published until 2000. Before that, she had been published in a number of role-playing game publications, such as Pyramid, mostly in collaboration with her husband at the time, Ken Walton, co-founder of the Cakebread & Walton games company.[6] Walton was also active in online science fiction fandom, especially in the Usenet groups rec.arts.sf.written and rec.arts.sf.fandom. Her poem "The Lurkers Support Me in E-Mail" is widely quoted on it and in other online arguments, often without her name attached.[7]

Walton's first three novels, The King's Peace (2000), The King's Name (2001), and The Prize in the Game (2002) were all fantasy and set in the same world, which is based on Arthurian Britain and the Táin Bó Cúailnge's Ireland. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002. Her next novel, Tooth and Claw (2003) was intended as a novel Anthony Trollope could have written, but about dragons rather than humans.

Farthing was her first science fiction novel, placing the genre of the cozy mystery firmly inside an alternative history in which the United Kingdom made peace with Adolf Hitler before the involvement of the United States in World War II. It was nominated for a Nebula Award, a Quill Award,[8] the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel,[9] and the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. A sequel, Ha'penny, was published in October 2007 by Tor Books,[10] with the final book in the trilogy, Half a Crown, published in September 2008. Ha'penny won the 2008 Prometheus Award (jointly with Harry Turtledove's novel The Gladiator)[11] and has been nominated for the Lambda Literary Award.[12]

In April 2007, Howard V. Hendrix stated that professional writers should never release their writings online for free, as this made them equivalent to scabs.[13] Walton responded to this by declaring 23 April as International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, a day in which writers who disagreed with Hendrix could release their stories online en masse. In 2008 Walton celebrated this day by posting several chapters of an unfinished sequel to Tooth and Claw, Those Who Favor Fire.

In 2008, Walton began writing an online column for, mostly retrospective reviews of older books.[14] A collection of these blog posts were published in What Makes This Book So Great (2014). She also wrote a series of articles revisiting the Hugo award nominees for each year from 1953 to 2000, which were later collected as An Informal History of the Hugos (2018).[15]

Her book, Among Others (2012), won several awards, including both the Hugo Award for Best Novel and Nebula Award for Best Novel.[16][17] Her recent works include the alternate history My Real Children (2014), which won the Tiptree Award;[18] the Thessaly trilogy (2015–16), a science fiction/fantasy series involving the Greek Gods and a re-imagining of Plato's Republic;[19] and the historical fantasy Lent (2019), set in renaissance Italy.[20] Her 2020 novel Or What You Will is a meta-fictional novel about immortality and creativity, featuring an ageing fantasy novelist writing a book set in renaissance Florence.[21]

In February 2018, Walton was the Literary/Fan Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker at the 36th annual Life, the Universe, & Everything professional science fiction and fantasy arts symposium.[22]

In November 2022, Walton released her original audio drama Heart's Home, based on a Welsh folk tale, with Odyssey Theatre as part of The Other Path podcast.


Awards and nominations
Award Category Year Work Result[18]
British Fantasy Award Fantasy Novel 2012 Among Others Won
British SF Award Nonfiction 2021 "Books In Which No Bad Things Happen" Nominated
Hugo Award Novel 2012 Among Others Won
Related Work 2019 An Informal History of the Hugos Nominated
James Tiptree Jr. Award 2010 Lifelode Nominated
2015 My Real Children Won
John W. Campbell Award New Writer 2001 Jo Walton Nominated
2002 Jo Walton Won
John W. Campbell Memorial Award SF Novel 2007 Farthing Nominated
Lambda Literary Award SF, Fantasy & Horror 2008 Ha'penny Nominated
Locus Award Fantasy Novel 2012 Among Others Nominated
2017 Necessity Nominated
SF Novel 2007 Farthing Nominated
Collection 2019 Starlings Nominated
Nonfiction 2015 What Makes This Book So Great Won
2019 An Informal History of the Hugos Nominated
Mythopoeic Award Adult Literature 2010 Lifelode Won
2012 Among Others Nominated
2017 Thessaly trilogy Nominated
2020 Lent Nominated
2022 Or What You Will Won
Nebula Award Novel 2007 Farthing Nominated
2012 Among Others Won
Prometheus Award Novel 2008 Ha'penny Won
2009 Half a Crown Nominated
2016 The Just City Nominated
Skylark Award 2017 Jo Walton Won
World Fantasy Award Novel 2004 Tooth and Claw Won
2012 Among Others Nominated
2015 My Real Children Nominated

Personal life[edit]

Walton moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, after her first novel was published. She is married to Emmet A. O'Brien.[23] She has one child, a son, Alexander, born 1990.



  • Tooth and Claw (November 2003, Tor Books, ISBN 0-7653-0264-0) Won the World Fantasy Award.
  • Lifelode (February 2009, NESFA Press,[24] ISBN 1-886778-82-5)
  • Among Others (January 2011, Tor Books ISBN 978-0-7653-2153-4); Nebula Award for Best Novel 2011, Hugo Award for Best Novel 2012, World Fantasy Award nominee
  • My Real Children (May 2014, Tor Books, ISBN 9780765332653); Tiptree Award 2014,[25] World Fantasy Award nominee,[26] Aurora Award nominee[27]
  • Lent (May 2019, Tor Books, ISBN 9780765379061)
  • Or What You Will (July 2020, Tor Books, ISBN 9781250308993)
Sulien series
Small Change trilogy
Thessaly trilogy

Other works[edit]

Short stories[edit]


  • "Story behind Ha'Penny by Jo Walton" (2013), from Story Behind the Book : Volume 1[29]


  1. ^ a b c Zipes, Jack (2015). "Walton, Jo". The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199689828.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-968982-8.
  2. ^ Jo Walton's Among Others: 'It's a mythologisation of part of my life' at the Guardian; by David Barnett; published 2 October 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2013
  3. ^ Contemporary Authors New Revision Series. Vol. 169. Gale Cengage Publishing. 2008. p. 434. ISBN 9780787695330.
  4. ^ Turner, Robin (26 December 2007). "Jo's scientific approach to writing". Western Mail. Wales. Archived from the original on 18 April 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2007.
  5. ^ Walton, Jo (26 December 2007). "LiveJournal comment on knowledge of Welsh". LiveJournal. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2017.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ "Jo Walton :: Pen & Paper RPG Database". Archived from the original on 16 January 2005.
  7. ^ "IRoSF: Login Required". Archived from the original on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2008.
  8. ^ Announcement of Quills nominees at The Beat Archived 15 July 2012 at, 2 June 2007
  9. ^ John W. Campbell Memorial Award Finalists Archived 15 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 4 June 2007
  10. ^ Tor Books blurb page for Ha'penny Archived 4 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ "Prometheus Award Finalists Announced". Libertarian Futurist Society. March 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  12. ^ 20th Annual Lambda Literary Awards accessed 25 April 2013.
  13. ^ Hendrix's "webscabs" post on LiveJournal Archived 4 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine, April 2007
  14. ^ Jo Walton Reads at
  15. ^ Wolfe, Gary K. (24 October 2018). "Gary K. Wolfe Reviews An Informal History of the Hugos by Jo Walton". Locus Magazine.
  16. ^ "2011 Nebula Award Winners". Locus Magazine. 19 May 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  17. ^ "Announcing the 2012 Hugo Award Winners". 2 September 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  18. ^ a b "Jo Walton Awards". Science Fiction Awards Database. Locus Science Fiction Foundation. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  19. ^ "Necessity by Jo Walton". Kirkus Reviews. 18 May 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  20. ^ Doctorow, Cory (16 May 2019). "Like 'Groundhog Day' in hell, 'Lent' traces the recurring lives of a heretic monk". The Los Angeles Times.
  21. ^ Grady, Constance (30 July 2020). "In this joyous fantasy novel, books and art are the key to cheating death". Vox.
  22. ^ "Life, the Universe, & Everything 36: The Marion K. "Doc" Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy" (PDF). LTUE Press. 1 February 2018.
  23. ^ Langford, David (August 2001). "Infinitely Improbable". Ansible (169).
  24. ^ Printed, according to the Salt Lake County library catalog,, "in a limited hardcover edition of 800 copies"
  25. ^ "2014 James Tiptree, Jr. Award". James Tiptree Jr. Literary Award.
  26. ^ The 2015 World Fantasy Award Nominees Have Been Announced!, at; published 8 July 2015. Retrieved 25 July 2015
  27. ^ 2015 Aurora Awards Nominees, at Locus Online; published 26 May 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015
  28. ^ "Note on The End of the World in Duxford". 28 March 2003. Archived from the original on 28 March 2003. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  29. ^ Story Behind the Book : Volume 1 – Essays on Writing Speculative Fiction Archived 12 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]