Rebecca Stott (born 1964) is a British academic, broadcaster, novelist and a professor at the University of East Anglia. She is the author of two historical thrillers, Ghostwalk (2007) and The Coral Thief (2009), a biography of Charles Darwin called Darwin and the Barnacle (2003) and 2,200-year history of Darwin's predecessors called Darwin's Ghosts. Stott lives and works in London and Norwich. She has three children. She has just published an account of her childhood growing up in a Christian fundamentalist cult called the Exclusive Brethren called In The Days of Rain and begun a third novel set in post-Roman Londinium.
Stott was born at Cambridge in 1964. She was born into a community of fundamentalist Christians known as the Exclusive Brethren. The Exclusive Brethren are a small branch of the Plymouth Brethren and, unlike their larger counterpart the "Open Brethren" they practice - and enforce - separatism. They have since renamed themselves the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church. Stott's family left the sect in the 1970s. Stott has published a family memoir about her early childhood, and her father's, spent growing up inside the Brethren called In the Days of Rain.
Education and career
Stott studied English and Art History at the University of York, then studied for a Master of Arts and a Ph.D also at York. She taught at the University of York, the University of Leeds, then Anglia Ruskin University at Cambridge before being appointed to a chair at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. She is also an affiliated scholar at the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge.
Stott's debut novel, Ghostwalk (2007) was shortlisted for the Jelf First Novel Award and the Society of Authors First Novel Award. Lydia Brooke is called upon to be the ghostwriter of a book on Sir Isaac Newton's alchemy. Brooke comes to suspect that the death of the book's author, Cambridge historian Elizabeth Vogelsang, may somehow relate to a series of unsolved seventeenth-century murders. The novel, an innovative mix of fiction and non-fiction, blends seventeenth-century accounts of plague, glassmaking, alchemy and theories of optics with a contemporary plot involving quantum physics and animal rights campaigns. The New York Times reviewer called it "Mesmerizing . . . Ghostwalk has an all-too-rare scholarly authority and imaginative sparkle" and compared it to the works of Borges and Edgar Allan Poe. The Independent in 2012 chose it as one of ten best ghost novels.
Stott's second novel, The Coral Thief, set in 1815 post-Napoleonic France, is a thriller that explores religion, rationalism, and evolutionary theory while its hero, a medical student, becomes drawn into a daring jewel heist. It was serialised on Radio Four's Book at Bedtime in January 2010. Kate Williams in the Financial Times described it as ‘an intellectual thriller, a book of penetrating humanity and a vivid evocation of Paris in the wake of Bonaparte's defeat’.
Before 2003 Stott published academic books including monographs or collections of essays on Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (with Simon Avery) and other aspects of Victorian culture. Since 2003 she has published books of narrative non-fiction which explore the boundaries between literature, intellectual history and the history of science. Darwin and the Barnacle (Faber, 2003) tells the story of Darwin's obsession with breaking the riddle of a single aberrant barnacle species he had found in a conch shell on a beach in Southern Chile and which led him to complete an enormous work of barnacle taxonomy while his revolutionary work on natural selection lay locked away in a drawer. In 2012 she published a book about the history of evolution before Darwin which documents a 2,200 year history, a tale of heretics and free thinkers who were prepared to risk public censure or even imprisonment by asking questions that challenged religious orthodoxies. Darwin's Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists was published in the UK by Bloomsbury Publishing and in the US by Spiegel and Grau in May 2012.
In June 2017 Stott will publish In the Days of Rain, a family memoir about growing up in the Exclusive Brethren. It is being published in the UK, Australia and America and is being translated into German.
- The Fabrication of the Late Victorian Femme Fatale, 1992
- Tennyson, 1996
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning (with Simon Avery), 2003
- Oyster, 2003
- Theatres of Glass: The Woman Who Brought the Sea to the City, 2003
- Darwin and the Barnacle, 2003.
- Ghostwalk, 2007
- The Coral Thief, 2009
- Darwin's Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists, 2012.
- In The Days of Rain, 2017
- Stott, Rebecca. "Rebecca Stott". Goodreads. Goodreads Inc. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
- The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/the-10-best-ghost-stories-8231292.html. Missing or empty
- ""The Coral Thief"". Biblioklept. 19 September 2009. Retrieved 30 January 2010.