Joan Brady (American-British writer)

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Joan Brady Masters
BornJoan Brady
(1939-12-04) 4 December 1939 (age 80)
San Francisco, United States
Pen nameJoan Brady
NationalityUnited States
GenreBiography, suspense fiction
Notable worksTheory of War
SpouseDexter Masters (1909–1989)
ChildrenAlexander Masters (son)
RelativesMildred Edie Brady (mother), Robert A. Brady (father)

Joan Brady (born 4 December 1939 in San Francisco) is an American-British writer. She is the first woman and American to win the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for her novel Theory of War.


Personal life[edit]

Born Joan Brady on 4 December 1939 in San Francisco to Mildred Edie Brady and Robert A. Brady. She has one sister, Judy.[1] Before becoming an author, she was a dancer with the San Francisco Ballet and the New York City Ballet then went on to study philosophy at Columbia University in New York City. In 1963, she married author Dexter Masters, her mother's former secret lover.[2] In 1965 they moved to England, and together had a son, Alexander Masters, who authored Stuart: A Life Backwards.[1] Her husband died in 1989, and she currently lives in Oxford, England.[3]


Her first published book was The Impostor in 1979. In 1982, she published her autobiography, that appears under both the titles The Unmaking of a Dancer and Prologue: An Unconventional Life'.

Her third book and second novel, Theory of War, was hailed as a "modern work of genius" and earned the Whitbread Novel of the Year award, as well as the Whitbread Book of the Year award.[4][5] This book also won the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger and a US National Endowment for the Arts grant. It tells the story of her grandfather, a white child sold as a slave right after the Civil War when the Emancipation Proclamation meant that African Americans could no longer be sold, and so many soldiers had died in the war that there were thousands of orphans. The psychological consequences of such a background—for the slave himself and for the generations that followed him—are the main concern of the novel. Two novels followed, Death Comes for Peter Pan, an exposé of medical abuse in America, and The Emigre, the adventures of a conman.

Bleedout is her first thriller. She started writing crime fiction during a legal battle over fumes from a nearby shoemaker from which she won a large settlement.[6] Bleedout takes place against a backdrop of political and corporate corruption and follows two men, one a murderer, another his mentor in the process of being murdered as the action progresses. Its sequel Venom, published in 2010, introduces the theme of pharmaceutical ruthlessness in pursuit of a cure for radiation poisoning.


  • The Impostor (1979)
  • The Unmaking of a Dancer (1982) aka Prologue: An Unconventional Life (in UK)
  • Theory of War (1993)
  • Death Comes For Peter Pan (1996)
  • The Emigré (1999)
  • Bleedout (2005)
  • Venom (2010)
  • The Blue Death (2012)


  1. ^ a b 2012, Digitalplot. "Joan Brady : Author". Retrieved 22 February 2017.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "Why I stole my mother's lover". Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  3. ^ Theory of War 1996 Abacus edition author notes
  4. ^ "2014-Past-Winners" (PDF). Costa. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  5. ^ Collins, Warwick (5 February 1994). "A modern work of genius". The Spectator. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  6. ^ "Trouble in Totnes: Hippies need some reiki healing after novelist". 27 January 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2017.

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