Maggie Gee (novelist)

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Maggie Mary Gee

BornPoole, Dorset, England, United Kingdom
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
EducationSomerville College, Oxford
Alma materWolverhampton Polytechnic (1980)
Notable awardsGranta Best of Young British Novelists (1983)
SpouseNicholas Rankin

Maggie Mary Gee OBE FRSL (born 1948) is an English novelist. In 2012, she became a Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.

Gee was one of six women among the 20 writers on the Granta Best of Young British Novelists list in 1983, which she recalls as "a very good time for fiction."[1] She was the first female Chair of the Royal Society of Literature (RSL), 2004–08.[2]


Gee was born in Poole, Dorset. As a child, she lived in the Midlands before moving to Sussex. She was educated at state schools, won a scholarship to Somerville College, Oxford and did an MA in English literature and an MLitt on Surrealism in England. After university she worked in publishing for two years and then became a research assistant at Wolverhampton Polytechnic where she completed a Ph.D. in The Self-Conscious Novel from Sterne to Vonnegut. She was one of the original Granta 20 Best of Young British Novelists.[2]

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL). Her teaching specialty is 20th and 21st-century fiction.[2]

Gee lives in London with her husband, the writer and broadcaster Nicholas Rankin (author of Dead Man's Chest: Travels after Robert Louis Stevenson, Telegram from Guernica: The Extraordinary Life of George Steer, War Correspondent and Churchill's Wizards), and their daughter.


Gee has published twelve novels – most recently Virginia Woolf in Manhattan in 2014 – a collection of short stories, and a memoir. Her seventh novel, The White Family, was shortlisted for the 2003 Orange Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.[3] The first book-length study of her work, Mine Özyurt Kılıç's Maggie Gee: Writing the Condition-of-England Novel, was published in 2013.[4]

Gee writes in a broadly modernist tradition, in that her books have a strong overall sense of pattern and meaning, but her writing style is characterized by political and social awareness. She turns a satirical eye on contemporary society but is affectionate towards her characters and has an unironic sense of the beauty of the natural world. Her human beings are biological as well as social creatures partly because of the influence of science and in particular evolutionary biology on her thinking. Where Are the Snows (first published in 1991), The Ice People (1998) and The Flood (2004) have all dealt with the near or distant future. She writes through male characters as often as she does through female characters.[3]

The individual human concerns that her stories address include the difficulties of resolving the conflict between total unselfishness, which often leads to secret unhappiness and resentment against the beneficiaries; and selfishness, which in turn can lead to the unhappiness of others, particularly of children. This is a typical quandary of late 20th- and early 21st-century women, but it is also a concern for privileged, wealthy, long-lived western human beings as a whole, and widens into global concerns about wealth, poverty, and climate change. Her books also explore how humans as a species relate to non-human animals and to the natural world as a whole. Two of her books, The White Family (2002) and My Cleaner (2005), have racism as a central theme, dealt with as a tragedy in The White Family but as a comedy in My Cleaner. In 2009 she published My Driver, a second novel with many of the same characters as My Cleaner, but this time set in Uganda during a time of tension with neighboring DR Congo.[3]

Gee is a Vice-President of the Royal Society of Literature and Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.[5] She has also served on the Society of Authors' management committee and the government's Public Lending Right committee.[3]

In 2012 Gee was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to literature.[6] In 2016 she was elected a non-executive director of the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society.


  • Dying, In Other Words (Harvester, 1981). ISBN 9780710800305
  • Anthology of Writing Against War: For Life on Earth (editor) (University of East Anglia, 1982)
  • The Burning Book (London: Faber and Faber, 1983). New edition 1985, ISBN 9780571134175
  • Light Years (London: Faber and Faber, 1985, re-issued by Flamingo, 1994, and by Saqi Books, 2005) ISBN 9780863568688
  • Grace (London: Heinemann, 1988, Telegram, 2009) - Heinemann ISBN 9780434287468
  • Where Are the Snows? (London: Heinemann, 1991, re-issued by Saqi Books, 2005) ISBN 978-1846590016
  • Lost Children (London: Flamingo, 1994) ISBN 9780006546870
  • The Burning Book (London: Flamingo, 1994) ISBN 978-0006546160
  • How May I Speak in My Own Voice? Language and the Forbidden (Birkbeck College: The William Matthews Lecture, 1996) ISBN 9780907904564
  • The Ice People (London: Richard Cohen Books, 1998, revised edn, Telegram, 2008). ISBN 9781846591389
  • The White Family (London: Saqi Books, 2002); Telegram Books. 18 April 2012. ISBN 9781846591372
  • Diaspora City: The London New Writing Anthology (contributor) (London: Arcadia Books, 2003) ISBN 9781900850759
  • The Flood (London: Saqi Books, 2004). ISBN 9780863563157
  • My Cleaner (London: Saqi Books, 2005). ISBN 9781846591327
  • The Blue (short stories) (London: Saqi Books, 2006). ISBN 9781846590139
  • NW 15: The Anthology of New Writing, co-edited with Bernardine Evaristo (Granta/British Council, 2007) ISBN 9781862079328
  • My Driver (Telegram, 2009). ISBN 9781846591334
  • My Animal Life: A Memoir. Saqi. 12 August 2011. ISBN 978-1-84659-096-2.[7][8]
  • Virginia Woolf in Manhattan (London: Telegram, 2014) ISBN 9781846591990


  1. ^ Jonathan Derbyshire, "The Books Interview: Maggie Gee", New Statesman, 8 March 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "Maggie Gee Professor of Creative Writing". Bath Spa University. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d "Maggie Gee". British Council. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Maggie Gee: Writing the Condition-of-England Novel f". Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  5. ^ Katie Allen. "Weldon and Hensher head to Bath Spa". The Bookseller. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  6. ^ "No. 60009". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2011. p. 10.
  7. ^ Michèle Roberts, "My Animal Life", The Independent, 9 April 2010.
  8. ^ Kathryn Hughes, "My Animal Life by Maggie Gee", The Guardian, 15 May 2010.

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