Sarah Dunant

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Sarah Dunant
Born (1950-08-08) 8 August 1950 (age 66)[1][2]
London, England
Occupation Writer, broadcaster, critic

Sarah Dunant (born 8 August 1950)[3][4] is a writer, broadcaster and critic.[2][1] She was a founding vice patron of the Orange Prize for women's fiction, sits on the editorial board of the Royal Academy magazine, and reviews for The Times, The Guardian, and The Independent on Sunday. She teaches creative writing at The Faber Academy in London and biennially at Washington University in St. Louis in its Renaissance studies course. She is also a creative writing fellow at Oxford Brookes University. She has two daughters and lives in London and Florence.

Early career[edit]

Dunant was born in London.[4] She attended Godolphin and Latymer School and studied history at Newnham College, Cambridge, where she was heavily involved in theatre and the Footlights review. After a brief spell working for the BBC she spent much of her twenties travelling (Japan, India, Asia and Central and South America) before starting to write. Her first two novels, along with a BBC television series, were written with a friend. After this she went solo.

Since then she has written ten novels, three screenplays and edited two books of essays. She has worked in television and radio as a producer and presenter: most notably for BBC Television where for seven years (1989–1996) she presented the live nightly culture programme The Late Show. After that she presented the BBC Radio 3 radio programme Night Waves.


Dunant's work ranges over a number of genres and eras. A favoured device of hers is to run two or more plot strands concurrently, as she does in Mapping the Edge. A common concern running through her work is women's perceptions and points of view, with other themes included.

Her first eight novels were broadly written within a thriller form. Their setting was contemporary and allowed her to explore such themes such as the drug trade, surrogacy, terrorism, animals rights, cosmetic surgery and sexual violence. Following a 2000 visit to Florence her focus returned to history. The novels which followed were researched, historical explorations of what it was like to be a woman within the Italian Renaissance. The trilogy looked at marriage, the culture of courtesans and the life of cloistered nuns. They were all international best sellers[citation needed] and were translated into over 30 languages.[citation needed]

Her most recent novel, Blood and Beauty, published in 2013, centres on a depiction of Italy's Borgia dynasty. It sets out to offer what Dunant regards as a historically accurate vision of a family that has been much maligned by history. Dunant states in her afterword that she plans to write a second, concluding novel about the family.


Dunant sees a parallel between the Catholic sex abuse cases and the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal, since in both cases victims could not be heard due to the authority and status of the abusers.[5]

Dunant believes the Roman Catholic Church needs to reform, to deal with wide-ranging problems. She also believes modernising one area of Roman Catholicism may lead to an unstoppable movement to modernise more.[6]

Dunant believes the teachers of her generation inspired girls to achieve as good an education as boys.[7]

Dunant believes the Borgia family were tremendous murderers and ruthless merchants.[8]

She describes herself as an ‘old stoner’ and is in favour of the decriminalisation of marijuana.[9]


  • Exterminating Angels (co-written with Peter Busby as Peter Dunant), 1984
  • Intensive Care (co-written with Peter Busby as Peter Dunant), 1986
  • Snow Storms in a Hot Climate, 1988
  • Birthmarks, 1991
  • Fatlands, 1993
  • The War of the Words: The Political Correctness Debate, 1994
  • Under My Skin, 1995
  • The Age of Anxiety, 1997
  • Transgressions, 1997
  • Mapping the Edge, 1999
  • The Birth of Venus, 2003
  • In the Company of the Courtesan, 2006
  • Sacred Hearts, 2009
  • Blood and Beauty, 2013
  • In the Name of the Family, 2017



External links[edit]