Joanne Harris

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Joanne Harris

Harris in 2020
Harris in 2020
Born (1964-07-03) 3 July 1964 (age 59)
Barnsley, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
EducationSt Catharine's College, Cambridge
GenreLiterary fiction
Magic realism
Psychological thriller
Notable worksChocolat
Blackberry Wine
Five Quarters of the Orange
Gentlemen & Players
Kevin Harris
(m. 1988)

Joanne Michèle Sylvie Harris OBE FRSL (born 3 July 1964) is an English-French author, best known for her 1999 novel Chocolat, which was adapted into a film of the same name.

Early life[edit]

Joanne Harris was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, to an English father and a French mother,[1] and lived above her grandparents' corner sweet shop until the age of three.[2][3] Harris's mother did not speak English when she married, and so Harris spoke only French until she started school.[4] Both her parents taught French at Barnsley Girls' High School.[5] Harris attended Wakefield Girls' High School and Barnsley Sixth Form College.[6] She studied modern and mediaeval languages at St Catharine's College, Cambridge.[7] She met her husband Kevin when they were both students at Barnsley Sixth Form College.[8]

Growing up, Harris was influenced by Norse mythology,[9] classic adventure stories including Jules Verne and Rider Haggard,[10] and the work of Ray Bradbury, Mervyn Peake and Emily Brontë.[11]

Literary career[edit]

After a year as an accountant, which she later described as "like being trapped in a Terry Gilliam film",[12] Harris trained as a teacher at the University of Sheffield, and for 15 years she taught modern languages, mostly at the independent Leeds Grammar School, and later taught French literature at the University of Sheffield.[13][14] While she was a teacher she published the horror/gothic novels The Evil Seed, and Sleep, Pale Sister .[15]

This was followed by Chocolat,[16] a novel set in a French village in the magical realism genre which went on to be shortlisted for the 1999 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award. Following the success of the motion picture Chocolat starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, the book sold more than a million copies.[17] Harris wrote three more novels in the Chocolat series: The Lollipop Shoes (titled The Girl With No Shadow in the US), Peaches for Monsieur le Curé (Peaches for Father Francis in the US), and The Strawberry Thief,[18] as well as three French cookbooks (co-written with Fran Warde).[19]

Chocolat was followed by the novels Blackberry Wine (2000), and Five Quarters of the Orange (2001), the latter described by the Guardian as having food "underpinning the action".[20] They were followed by Coastliners in 2002[21] and Holy Fools in 2003,[21] both of which are set on the fictional French island of Le Devin.[22][23]

In 2007, Harris published Runemarks, a fantasy novel based on Norse mythology. The sequels Runelight, The Gospel of Loki and The Testament of Loki followed between 2011 and 2017. In 2006, Harris published Gentlemen and Players, a psychological thriller set in the fictional boys' grammar school of St Oswald's, and inspired by her time as a teacher.[4] This was followed by two more St Oswald's books, Different Class and A Narrow Door alongside two more psychological thrillers, Blueeyedboy and Broken Light,[24] all set in the fictional town of Malbry, inspired by the Yorkshire village of Almondbury.[25][26]

Harris has published three novellas, A Pocketful of Crows, The Blue Salt Road, and Orfeia, loosely based on Child Ballads and illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins. Harris has published two collections of short stories and donated others to various charitable anthologies. In 2021 she published Honeycomb, a collection of original fairytales, illustrated by Charles Vess.[27] She has also published a Doctor Who novella, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller.[28][29]

She judged the Orange (Women's) Prize,[30] the Whitbread Prize,[31] the Desmond Elliott Prize,[32] the Betty Trask Prize,[33] the Primadonna Prize,[34] the Comedy Women in Print[35] Award and the Winton Prize for Science Books.[36] In 2024 Harris was announced[37] as the chief judge of the new Entente Litteraire Prize for French and UK Young Adult novels, a joint initiative of Queen Camilla and Brigitte Macron sponsored by the Royal Society of Literature.[38]

In 2021, Harris was a guest on BBC's Desert Island Discs, where her chosen book was the collected works of Victor Hugo, her luxury was her own shed, and the record she "would save from the waves" was Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now".[19]

Other activities[edit]

Harris has been involved in a number of musical projects, including collaborating with Lucie Treacher and the Tête à Tête Opera Festival to create two mini-operas,[39][40] building a stage show with the Storytime Band based on her work,[41] and co-writing and developing an original stage musical, Stunners, with Howard Goodall.[42][43]

Harris is a patron of the charities Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), to which she donated the proceeds of her cookery books,[44] and Plan UK. In 2009 she travelled to the Congo to report on MSF's work there.[45] Harris sits on the Board of the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society.[46] In 2022, Harris was named PinkNews's "Ally of the Year".[47][48]

Harris was chair of the management committee of the Society of Authors for two terms from 2020 to 2024,[49][50] being unanimously re-elected to the position in March 2022.[51] She assisted in several SOA campaigns, including raising awareness on author pay and conditions.[52][53] In 2022 a members' vote was raised calling for Harris to stand down as chair, in relation to the society's stance on protecting free speech.[54][55] The motion was defeated with 81% voting against.[56]

Honours and awards[edit]

Harris is the holder of honorary doctorates in literature from the University of Huddersfield and the University of Sheffield, and is an Honorary Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge.[57]

Harris was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 Birthday Honours and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2022 Birthday Honours for services to literature.[58]

In 2022, she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.[59][57]

Writing awards include:

Personal life[edit]

Harris lives in Yorkshire with her husband Kevin, and has a son.[68] She works from a shed in her garden.[69]

Harris was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020, and discussed the diagnosis and her ongoing treatment on social media and at the Hay Festival.[70] She has stated that she has a form of synaesthesia "in which colours in bright light trigger scents", and also suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in winter.[71]


  • The Evil Seed (1989)
  • Sleep, Pale Sister (1993)
  • Chocolat (1999)
  • Blackberry Wine (2000)
  • Five Quarters of the Orange (2001)
  • The French Kitchen, A Cook Book (2002)
  • Coastliners (2002)
  • Holy Fools (2003)
  • Jigs & Reels (2004)
  • Gentlemen & Players (2005)
  • The French Market (2005)
  • The Lollipop Shoes (2007) (US title: The Girl With No Shadow, April 2008)
  • Runemarks (2007 in the UK, 2008 in the US)
  • Blueeyedboy (1 April 2010 in the UK)
  • Runelight (September 2011 in the UK)
  • Peaches for Monsieur le Curé (May 2012) (US title: Peaches for Father Francis, October 2012)
  • A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String (October 2012)
  • The Gospel of Loki (February 2014), as Joanne M. Harris
  • The Little Book of Chocolat (March 2014), with Fran Warde
  • The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller (October 2014). Doctor Who novella.
  • Different Class (2016)
  • A Pocketful of Crows (2017) a folklore-inspired novella
  • The Testament of Loki (2018)
  • The Blue Salt Road (2018)
  • The Strawberry Thief (2019)
  • Orfeia (2020)
  • Ten Things About Writing(2020) a self-help book for writers.
  • Honeycomb (2021)
  • A Narrow Door (2021)
  • Broken Light (2023)
  • Maiden, Mother, Crone (2023)

Stories featured in the following anthologies:

  • Magic (2002). A collection of stories in aid of Piggybank Kids.
  • Bosom Buddies (2003). A collection of stories in aid of Breast Cancer UK.
  • Journey to the Sea (2005). A collection of stories in aid of Piggybank Kids.
  • Mums – a Celebration of Motherhood (2006). A collection of stories in aid of Piggybank Kids.
  • Dads – a Celebration of Fatherhood (2007). A collection in aid of Piggybank Kids.
  • In Bed With... (2009). A collection of erotic stories by well-known female writers.
  • Because I am a Girl (2010). Charity anthology in aid of Plan UK.
  • Stories (2010). A collection of fantasy tales, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio.
  • Writing on the Edge (2010). A collection of eyewitness accounts by well-known authors of extreme conditions and war-torn locations. In aid of MSF.
  • Why Willows Weep (2011). Charity anthology in aid of the Woodland Trust.
  • Beacons (2013). Charity anthology in aid of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition.
  • Fearie Tales (2014)
  • That Glimpse of Truth – the 100 Finest Short Stories Ever Written (2014), edited by David Miller.
  • Time Trips (2015). A collection of Doctor Who stories by various authors, including the Joanne Harris novella The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller.
  • Twice Cursed (2023). An anthology of stories on the subject of curses, edited by Marie o'Regan and Paul Kane.


  1. ^ "ABOUT". Joanne Harris.
  2. ^ "Author interview: Joanne Harris". Oxford Mail. 26 March 2004. Retrieved 9 February 2024.
  3. ^ Goss, Alexandra (20 January 2024). "Time and place: Joanne Harris" – via
  4. ^ a b Brace, Marianne (6 October 2005). "Joanne Harris: From chocolat to cabbage". The Independent.
  5. ^ "Joanne Harris on how her career as a teacher shaped her career as a writer". CrimeReads. 5 January 2022. Retrieved 15 January 2024.
  6. ^ Lacey, Hester (17 May 2013). "The Inventory: Joanne Harris". Financial Times. Retrieved 9 February 2024.
  7. ^ "Joanne Harris - Literature". Retrieved 2 January 2024.
  8. ^ Hodgson, Michelle (21 October 2011). "Joanne Harris: My family values". The Guardian.
  9. ^ "Joanne Harris: Modern Myths". 12 July 2015.
  10. ^ "Interview: Joanne Harris novelist". Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  11. ^ Harris, Joanne (17 November 2023). "Joanne Harris: 'When I first read Ulysses I hated it with a passion'". The Guardian.
  12. ^ Harriet Lane (14 July 2001). "Interview: Joanne Harris". The Observer. London. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  13. ^ "Joanne Harris: Modern Myths". Locus Online. 12 July 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  14. ^ Addison, Marla. "Interview with Joanne Harris, author of Blackberry Wine" (PDF). Retrieved 16 January 2024.
  15. ^ "Joanne Harris, About the Author". Mostly Fiction Book Reviews. Archived from the original on 29 December 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2008.
  16. ^ CHOCOLAT | Kirkus Reviews.
  17. ^ Book Reviews (18 May 2012). "The Millionaire Authors' Club". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  18. ^ "The Strawberry Thief". Joanne Harris. 12 August 2018. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  19. ^ a b "Desert Island Discs, Joanne Harris, writer". BBC Radio 4. 12 November 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  20. ^ Jaine, Tom (7 April 2001). "Cooking the books". The Guardian.
  21. ^ a b "Joanne Harris: Modern Myths". Locus Online. 12 July 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2024.
  22. ^ "Coastliners | Joanne Harris".
  23. ^ "Holy Fools". Joanne Harris. Retrieved 27 February 2024.
  24. ^ "Joanne Harris". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved 2 January 2024.
  25. ^ "Different Class". Joanne Harris. Retrieved 15 January 2024.
  26. ^ "Interview from the Norse Mythology blog, with Dr Karl Seigfried". Joanne Harris. Retrieved 15 January 2024.
  27. ^ "Building a Mythology: Honeycomb by Joanne M Harris". 25 May 2021. Retrieved 17 January 2024.
  28. ^ Penguin Books, Joanne Harris, Time Trips, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Time Traveller. 4 September 2014.
  29. ^ "Dr Who TV: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Time Traveller by Joanne Harris". 4 September 2014.
  30. ^ Crown, Sarah (14 March 2005). "Old hands join with new on Orange longlist". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  31. ^ "ReadingZone". ReadingZone. Whitbread Prize. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  32. ^ "Female authors lead Desmond Elliott Prize longlist". BBC News. 24 April 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  33. ^ "Bookseller Betty Trask Winners Announced". Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  34. ^ "2019 Prize announcement –". Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  35. ^ "Bookseller: CWIP Prize Judges Announced".
  36. ^ "Higgs boson tale wins Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books". Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  37. ^ "Joanne Harris to judge €8k Entente Littéraire Prize". The Bookseller. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  38. ^ Stenhouse, Martha (30 November 2023). "Entente Littéraire Prize". Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  39. ^ "Clockwork Tête à Tête". Tete-a-Tete Opera Festival.
  40. ^ "Time to say goodbye: Moonlight /The Last Seed at Tête à Tête | Bachtrack".
  41. ^ "Storytime Joanne Harris and the Storytime Band". Tête à Tête. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  42. ^ "Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat) and Howard Goodall musical: News - Howard Goodall".
  43. ^ "New Patron and Board Members For Musical Theatre Network Announced". Theatre Weekly. 27 March 2023.
  44. ^ "Journey to the land the world forgot - author Joanne Harris in Congo Brazzaville". Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International.
  45. ^ Crowe, Dan (2010). Writing on the Edge: Great Contemporary Writers on the Front Line of Crisis. Rizzoli International Publications. pp. Chapter 7 Congo-Brazzarilla: quietly in hope. ISBN 978-0-8478-3291-0.
  46. ^ "Our team". ALCS. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  47. ^ Hansford, Amelia (19 October 2022). "PinkNews Awards 2022: Stars unite to celebrate LGBTQ+ heroes and icons". PinkNews. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  48. ^ Johnson, Mark (20 October 2022). "Brands and stars among winners of PinkNews Awards 2022".
  49. ^ Bayley, Sian (23 January 2024). "Fox O'Loughlin elected new SoA chair, succeeding Harris". The Bookseller. Retrieved 25 January 2024.
  50. ^ "Joanne Harris - The Society of Authors". Society of Authors. 16 January 2021. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  51. ^ Chandler, Mark (17 August 2022). "Society of Authors and Harris defend stance on threats and free speech after author criticism". The Bookseller. Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  52. ^ Harris, Joanne (7 December 2022). "Horribly low pay is pushing out my fellow authors – and yes, that really does matter". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2024.
  53. ^ Jessop, Vicky (18 March 2022). "Londoner's Diary: Book world can help Ukrainian voices, says Joanne Harris". Evening Standard.
  54. ^ Urwin, Rosamund (30 October 2022). "Rival writers' camps in free speech showdown". The Times. Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  55. ^ Shaffi, Sarah; Knight, Lucy (17 August 2022). "Society of Authors responds to calls for Joanne Harris to step down as committee chair". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 January 2024.
  56. ^ Sherwood, Harriet; Taylor, Harry (17 November 2022). "Joanne Harris sees off vote to oust her from Society of Authors role". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  57. ^ a b "Joanne Harris". Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 17 January 2024.
  58. ^ "No. 63714". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 June 2022. p. B13.
  59. ^ Shaffi, Sarah; Knight, Lucy (12 July 2022). "Adjoa Andoh, Russell T Davies and Michaela Coel elected to Royal Society of Literature". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 June 2023.
  60. ^ "Gourmand Awards Winners 1995-2014". Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  61. ^ Gibbons, Fiachra; correspondent, arts (21 January 2002). "McEwan's chance to turn the tables". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 January 2024.
  62. ^ "2010 World Food Media Awards". Archived from the original on 12 April 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  63. ^ "Category List – Best Novel". Edgar Awards. Retrieved 17 January 2024.
  64. ^ "Le Rocher de Montmartre – – Joanne Harris | Editions Points". 26 November 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  65. ^ "Sean O'Brien". British Council. Retrieved 15 January 2024.
  66. ^ Socarras, Ines (15 March 2017). "The Jasmine Awards list (and why we couldn't be more pleased, even though we didn't win this year!)".
  67. ^ "Announcing the 2018 British Fantasy Award Winners". 22 October 2018.
  68. ^ Harris, Joanne (9 December 2022). Today 09/12/2022. Today. BBC Radio 4. Event occurs at 2h52m21s. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
  69. ^ Alex Johnson (23 February 2011). "Exclusive: interview with shed-working author Joanne Harris". Shedworking. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  70. ^ Knight, Lucy (30 May 2022). "Joanne Harris says she saw her cancer as a fictional 'monster' she could 'destroy'". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  71. ^ Harris, Joanne. "Scent illustrations". Retrieved 15 January 2024.

External links[edit]