Sara Maitland

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Sara Maitland
Born Sarah Maitland
(1950-02-27) 27 February 1950 (age 68)
London, United Kingdom
Occupation writer of short stories, novelist, amateur theologian
Nationality British
Period 1978–present
Genre nonfiction, fiction, theology, gardening
Subject Christianity, saints, lives of women, mythology, fairy tales
Notable works Daughter of Jerusalem, "True North"/"Far North" (short story), A Big Enough God, A Book of Silence
Notable awards Somerset Maugham Award (1979) – Daughter of Jerusalem
Bristol Festival of Ideas Book Prize (nomination, 2009) – A Book of Silence
BBC National Short Story Award (runner up, 2009) – "Moss Witch"

Sara Maitland (born 27 February 1950, London) is a British writer of religious fantasy. A novelist, she is also known for her short stories. Her work has a magic realist tendency.


Originally spelt Sarah Maitland, she was the second of six children to an upper-class London family,[1] which she has described as "very open and noisy".[2] In her childhood she went to school in a small Wiltshire town[3] and attended a girls' boarding school from age twelve until her admission to university. Maitland thought this school a terrible place and became very excitable.[4]

Growing up, Maitland developed a wild reputation: in 1966 she scandalised one of her brothers by winning a foot race in a very short cotton dress.[5] On entering Oxford University in 1968 to study English, she was friends with future US President, Bill Clinton [6] "and a regular visitor at 46 Leckford Road, a house Clinton shared with Frank Aller, Jana (Jan) Brenning and Strobe Talbot".[7][8] and suffered from problems of mental disarray and inability to carry out routine tasks.[9] During her college years, Maitland was taken to a mental hospital on several occasions for this reason,[10] but she completed her course and soon turned to writing.

Maitland originally became regarded as one of those at the vanguard of the 1970s feminist movement and is often described as a feminist writer.[citation needed]

She has been absorbed in religion since 1972, however: from 1972 to 1993 she was married to an Anglican priest. In 1993 she was divorced and became a Roman Catholic.[11] In 1995 she worked with Stanley Kubrick on the film A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

She has two grown-up children.[12] Maitland's daughter [Polly Lee is an actress best known for her work on the American television series The Americans and Gotham.[13] Maitland's son Adam Lee is a photographer best known for his photographic series Identity Documents and his work with Look - Liverpool International Photography Festival.[14] Since Adam left college, Maitland has moved towards a solitary and prayerful life[15] in a variety of locations, first of all on the Isle of Skye and ultimately in her present house in Galloway. She says today that she wants to avoid most of the comforts of life, especially those that intrude into her quest for silence such as mobile phones, radio, television and even her son.[16] She has described these changes in her life and the experiences leading to them in the autobiographical A Book of Silence. Maitland lectures part-time for Lancaster University's MA in Creative Writing and is a Fellow of St Chad's College, Durham University.

Maitland's 2003 collection of short stories, On Becoming a Fairy Godmother, is a fictional celebration of the menopausal woman, whilst the title story of 2008's Far North was originally published as "True North" in her first collection Telling Tales and was made into a film of the same title in 2007. The rest of Far North collects dark mythological tales from around the world.



  • Daughter of Jerusalem 1978 (winner of Somerset Maugham Award 1979)
    • also published as The Languages of Love
  • Virgin Territory 1984
  • Arky Types 1987 (with Michelene Wandor)
  • Three Times Table 1991
  • Home Truths 1993
    • published as Ancestral Truths in the United States
  • Hagiographies 1998
  • Brittle Joys 1999

Short story collections[edit]

  • Telling Tales 1983
  • A Book of Spells 1987
  • Women Fly When Men Aren't Watching 1992
  • Angel and Me (for Holy Week) 1996
  • On Becoming A Fairy Godmother Maia, 2003
  • Far North & Other Dark Tales, 2008
  • Moss Witch, 2013


As editor[edit]


  • Lorna Sage (1999) The Cambridge Guide to Women's Writing in English, Cambridge University Press.


  1. ^ A Book of Silence, By Sara Maitland Reviewed by Michele Roberts
  2. ^ Maitland, Sara; The Swans
  3. ^ Maitland, Sara (editor); Very Heaven: Looking Back at the 1960s; p. 5. ISBN 0-86068-958-1
  4. ^ Maitland; Very Heaven; p. 4
  5. ^ Maitland; Very Heaven; p. 5
  6. ^ Brenning, Jana
  7. ^ Hoffman, Matthew; "The Bill Clinton We Knew at Oxford: Apart from smoking dope (and not inhaling), what else did he learn over here? College friends share their memories with Matthew Hoffman"; in The Independent, 11 October 1992
  8. ^ "Clinton's London Affair Just SAX"; in Los Angeles Times; 4 July 1993; p. 24
  9. ^ “Is there a link between madness and creativity?“; in The Independent on Sunday, 18 March 2007
  10. ^ "Is there a link between madness and creativity?“
  11. ^ Brown, Andrew; "Church Group Reported for Sex Bias"; in The Independent, 9 April 1993.
  12. ^ About Sara Archived 11 September 2012 at
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ Sara Maitland: A Very Unlikely Modern Hermit
  16. ^ All Quiet on the Western Front

External links[edit]