Rebecca Stott was born in Cambridge in 1964, the second of five children. She grew up in Brighton where her grandfather and father ran a wholesale grocers business, Stott and Sons, which had once been a ship's chandlers in Port Seton and Cockenzie on the east coast of Scotland.
Stott won a scholarship to Brighton and Hove High School for Girls in 1975 and then studied English and Art History at York University. At York she completed an MA and PhD whilst raising her son, Jacob, who was born in 1984. She has since had two more children, Hannah and Kezia.
Stott is a creative non-fiction writer, novelist, academic, and historian of science. She is the author of several books on Victorian literature and culture, several books of creative non-fiction, including a biography of Charles Darwin called Darwin and the Barnacle (Faber 2003), and Darwin's Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists (Bloomsbury 2012) and a cultural history of the oyster. She is now a Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.
Stott's first novel, Ghostwalk, conceived in a 5 am taxi ride in a conversation with a meteorologist on route to Stansted airport, was published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in the UK in 2007 and was the launch novel of the new fiction list of Spiegel and Grau in the US (a new division of Random House). It has been translated into 12 different languages including Russian, Hebrew, Serbian and Mandarin. It was shortlisted for the Jelf First Novel Award, the Society of Authors First Novel Award and long listed for the Impac Dublin Literary Award.
Her second novel, The Coral Thief, a historical novel and a coming of age story in which a young man falls amongst a group of infidel thieves and philosophers in Paris in 1815, just after the fall of Napoleon at Waterloo, was published in the UK in December 2009 and in the US in January 2010. It was read by the actor Daniel Stevens on BBC's Book at Bedtime in January 2010. It is also published in twelve languages.
Her latest book, Darwin's Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists, tells the 2,200 year history of evolution before Darwin through the lives of the heretics and freethinkers who were prepared to risk their freedom by challenging religious orthodoxies about the origin of species. It was published by Bloomsbury in the UK and Spiegel and Grau in the US in May 2012.
She is currently writing a third novel set in contemporary London.
Stott lives in Barnsbury, London, with her two daughters in a house to the north of Kings Cross, close to the edge of the now-underground Fleet River. She is currently working on the abandonment and decay of Roman London.
This biography was last updated on 01/16/2014.
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In three separate pieces Rebecca Stott discusses
The Coral Thief and Ghostwalk
A Conversation with Rebecca Stott about The Coral Thief
The novel takes place soon after the defeat of Napoleon by the British Navy at Waterloo. What was it that drew you to this particular sliver of time in French history?
1815 was a remarkable turning point a vortex in history. It was twenty years or so after the French Revolution. The French had established a republic and then Napoleon Bonaparte had risen to power, appointing himself initially as First Consul, then later Emperor of France. He'd been cock-of-the-roost in Europe for more than ten years, conquering one European country after another. He'd made Paris the centre of everything, politically and culturally, literally transforming the map of Europe. He and his men had plundered hundreds of palaces across Europe and he'd sent back all his spoils of war to Paris so that, by 1815, the museums, libraries and galleries in Paris were full to the rafters with paintings, rare books and unique natural history collections. Then all of that power came crashing to an end when Napoleon was ...
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