Maggie O'Farrell

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Maggie O'Farrell
Born 1972
Coleraine, Northern Ireland
Occupation Novelist
Nationality British
Spouse William Sutcliffe

Maggie O'Farrell (born 1972, Coleraine Northern Ireland) is a Northern Irish author of contemporary fiction, who features in Waterstones' 25 Authors for the Future[1] It is possible to identify several common themes in her novels – the relationship between sisters is one, another is loss and the psychological impact of those losses on the lives of her characters. O'Farrell won the 2010 Costa novel award on 4 January 2010 for her novel, The Hand That First Held Mine.[2]


Maggie was born in Northern Ireland and grew up in Wales and Scotland. At the age of eight she missed a year of school due to a viral infection,[3] an event that is echoed in The Distance Between Us. Maggie worked as a journalist, both in Hong Kong and as the Deputy Literary Editor of The Independent on Sunday. She has also taught creative writing.

She is married to the novelist William Sutcliffe, whom she met at Cambridge. They now live together in Edinburgh, with their two children.[4] She has described Sutcliffe as 'a huge influence', saying, 'Will's always been my first reader, even before we were a couple, so he's a huge influence. He's brutal but you need that'.[5]

Awards and honours[edit]



  • After You'd Gone (2000)
  • My Lover's Lover (2002)
  • The Distance Between Us (2004)
  • The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (2007)
  • The Hand That First Held Mine (2010)
  • Instructions for a Heatwave (2013)


  1. ^ A list of emergent promising British & Northern Irish writers of the 21st Century who they believe will go on to produce the most impressive body of work over the next quarter century.[dead link]
  2. ^ Derry-born author wins Costa prize. Irish Times, 4 January 2010.
  3. ^ Sale, Jonathan (17 May 2007) "Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Maggie O'Farrell", The Independent
  4. ^ S.n.(s.d.) "Meet Maggie", Maggie O'Farrell
  5. ^ Day, Elizabeth (24 February 2012) "Maggie O'Farrell: 'My writing is tougher and much better since I had children'"
  6. ^ Derry-born author wins Costa prize. Irish Times, 4 January 2010.
  7. ^ Mark Brown (26 November 2013). "Costa book awards 2013: late author on all-female fiction shortlist". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 

External links[edit]