Louisa Young

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Louisa Young is an award-winning best-selling British novelist,[1] songwriter, short-story writer, biographer and journalist, whose work is published in 32 languages. As of 2018, she has published six novels under her own name and five with her daughter Isabel Adomakoh Young under the nom de plume Zizou Corder. Her eleventh novel, Devotion, was published in June 2016.[2][3][4] She is also the author of two non-fiction books, The Book of the Heart (Flamingo, 2000) and A Great Task of Happiness (Macmillan, 1995; Lulu, 2012). Her latest book is a memoir, 'You Left Early: A True Story of Love and Alcohol' (Borough Press, 2018), an account of her relationship with the composer Robert Lockhart, and of his alcoholism.

Young's work has been nominated and shortlisted for many different prizes, including the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Costa Book of the Year Prize, the Costa Novel of the Year Prize, the Galaxy Audible Audiobook of the Year Prize, which it won, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, the Carnegie Medal, the International Dublin Literary Award, the Wellcome Prize and the Folio Prize, and chosen by the Richard and Judy Bookclub.

Early life[edit]

Louisa Young was born in London, England. Her father was the politician and writer Wayland Young, Lord Kennet. Her mother was Elizabeth Young, Lady Kennet. She has several siblings, including the sculptor Emily Young.


Young was educated at Hallfield Primary School, Paddington; St Paul's Girls' School; Westminster School; and Trinity College Cambridge.[2][5]


Young worked as a subeditor and freelance journalist on several publications including the Guardian, the Sunday Times, the Daily Express, Marie Claire, Tatler, Bike Magazine, and Motorcycle International. She also worked at various stages as a despatch rider, a busker (double bass and vocals), a waitress, a kitchen-hand and a shop assistant.[5]

Her first book, A Great Task of Happiness, a biography of her grandmother Kathleen Scott, widow of Captain Scott of the Antarctic, was published by MacMillan in 1995.[6] It was followed[when?] by three novels set in London and Egypt: Baby Love, Desiring Cairo, and Tree of Pearls (Flamingo). Baby Love was listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction.[2] They were followed in 2002 by The Book of the Heart, a cultural history symbolism involving the heart, covering its historical role in art, religion, love and anatomy. In 2007, she was a curatorial advisor for the Wellcome Foundation's exhibition The Heart, which was inspired by her book.[7]

She co-authored five books for children with her daughter: Lionboy,[3] Lionboy: The Chase,[1] Lionboy: The Truth,[1] Lee Raven, Boy Thief, and Halo. The Lionboy trilogy was translated into 36 languages. Halo was shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize in 2010, and nominated for the Carnegie Medal in 2011.[8][9] The film rights have been sold three times, including to Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks.[1] A stage production by Theatre de Complicite, directed by Annabel Arden, adapted by Marcelo dos Santos with Annabel Arden, Louisa Young and the company, and starring Adetomiwa Edun opened in 2013 at the Bristol Old Vic and toured the UK, to very favourable reviews. The show was reprised at the Tricycle Theatre London, The New Victory Theatre New York, and in Hong Kong and South Korea 2014/15.[10]

In 2011, she published My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You, a First World War novel which was shortlisted for the Costa Novel of the Year Award and the Wellcome Prize, and won the Galaxy Audiobook of the Year Award 2012, read by actor Dan Stevens and with music by Robert Lockhart. It was chosen for the Richard & Judy Book Club in 2012; nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award 2013, and was BBC Radio Four's Book at Bedtime in January 2012, read by Olivia Coleman. It was the London Cityread choice for 2014, and has been sold in 15 languages.[11] The Heroes' Welcome, a sequel, was published in the UK in 2014, and nominated for the Folio Prize that year. Devotion, the third book in the series, was published in June 2016. Film rights to My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You have been sold.

Young's music project Birds of Britain is a collaboration with multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer Alex Mackenzie. The debut album You Left Early (June 2018) is a collection of songs written by Young about the death of her fiancé.

Personal life[edit]

Her daughter and co-author Isabel Adomakoh Young was born in 1993. Louisa was engaged to the composer and pianist Robert Lockhart, who died in 2012. Her partner is the novelist Michel Faber.


  • Egypt trilogy
    • Baby Love (London: Flamingo, 2004; Borough Press 2015)
    • Desiring Cairo (Flamingo, 2005; Borough Press 2015)
    • Tree of Pearls (Flamingo, 2006, Borough Press 2015)
  • My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You (HarperCollins, March 2011); Paperback: January 2012; US 2011)
  • The Heroes' Welcome (The Borough Press, May 2014)
  • Devotion (The Borough Press, June 2016)
  • A Great Task of Happiness: The Life of Kathleen Scott (MacMillan, 1995); reissued by The Hydraulic Press, Lulu 2012
  • The Book of the Heart (Flamingo, 2002)
  • Ruby Baby radio drama, BBC Radio 7, 2010
  • She wiped the surface and put the kettle on, BBC Radio 4, read by Emma Fielding, 2012
By Zizou Corder

Zizou Corder is the joint pseudonym of mother-and-daughter co-authors Louisa and Isabel Adomakoh Young.

  • Lionboy (Puffin, 2003)
  • Lionboy: The Chase (Puffin, 2004)
  • Lionboy: The Truth (Puffin, 2006)
  • Lee Raven, Boy Thief (Puffin, 2008)
  • Halo (Puffin, 2010)
  • "The Intrepid Dumpling's Dugong Story", in The Just When Stories (Beautiful Books, 2010)


  1. ^ a b c d Beckett, Sandra L. (2008). Crossover Fiction: Global and Historical Perspectives. Routledge. ISBN 0415879361.
  2. ^ a b c Peto, James (2007). The Heart. Other Distribution. p. 244. ISBN 0300125100.
  3. ^ a b Falconer, Rachel (2008). The Crossover Novel: Contemporary Children's Fiction and Its Adult Readership. Routledge. p. 37. ISBN 0415978882.
  4. ^ Perrin, Raymond (2007). Littérature de jeunesse et presse des jeunes au début du XXIe siècle: Esquisse d'un état des lieux, enjeux et perspectives (in French). L'Harmattan. p. 302. ISBN 2296040675.
  5. ^ a b "Louisa Young". Louisa Young. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  6. ^ Louisa Young (2012). A Great Task of Happiness The Life of Kathleen Scott. Amazon.co.uk. ISBN 1470986892.
  7. ^ "Credits". Wellcome Collection. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  8. ^ "Zizou Corder – Puffin Books Authors – Puffin Books". Puffin.co.uk. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  9. ^ "Louisa Young". Louisa Young. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  10. ^ Vonledebur, Catherine (15 March 2013). "Varied line-up of summer fun at Warwick Arts Centre". Coventry Telegraph. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  11. ^ "Authors : Louisa Young". Harpercollins.co.uk. Retrieved 1 May 2014.

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