Gaynor Arnold biography, plus links to book reviews and book excerpts from books by Gaynor Arnold.

Author Biography  |  Interview  |  Books by this Author  |  Readalikes

Gaynor Arnold
Photo: Richard Battye

Gaynor Arnold

Gaynor Arnold Biography

Gaynor Arnold was born and brought up in Cardiff, Wales. An only child, she grew up in a rented house with her parents (both shop assistants), grandparents and aunt.  When she was 10 she asked her parents for a typewriter and proceeded to 'churn out three plays a week'.  She turned to reading fiction following the death of her father when she was 11; it was then that she read David Copperfield for the first of many times. 

Although both her parents left school at 14 years old, she stayed on, eventually winning a place to read English at St. Hilda's College, Oxford, where she acted in many plays, notably at the Edinburgh Festival and in a tour of the U.S.  She describes her time at Oxford as "bliss" - it "was such a hedonistic experience that, when I left, I thought I really must do something with my life."

After two years of social work training she married her husband, Nicolas (who she met at Oxford, where he was studying history at Magdalen College).  They moved to Exeter in the south of England, where she frequently visited some of the most deprived and dysfunctional households. 

Over time she says the job became increasingly grueling.  Speaking to the British Daily Telegraph she says, "I took some time out after having my second child, and when I came back to working with children in care, it got harder and harder. The types of problems became more severe, and the whole lid came off the sexual-abuse issue, which we naively thought hardly ever happened when I started out. All the child protection processes became more entrenched, and it became harder and harder to do the job."

Since 1996 Arnold, now sixty-three years old, has worked for the Birmingham City Council as part of a recruitment team for adoption and fostering.  She and Nicholas, a retired university lecturer, live in a large Victorian terraced house on the outskirts of the city.  They have two adult children.

For almost 40 years, "jobs, children and life" got in the way of her writing.  Then she joined a writers' group in the Nineties and rediscovered her love of writing.

Her first novel, Girl in a Blue Dress, was published in the UK in early 2009 (Aug 2009 in the USA).  The book was long-listed for both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker prize.

This biography was last updated on 09/01/2009.

A note about the biographies
We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate. However, with over 2500 lives to keep track of it's inevitable that some won't be as current or as complete as we would like. So, please help us - if the information about a particular author is out of date, inaccurate or simply very short, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors and those connected with authors: If you wish to make changes to your bio, please send your complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we can replace the old with the new.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Interview

A Conversation with Gaynor Arnold,
author of Girl in a Blue Dress

What inspired you to write Girl in a Blue Dress?

It's a long story, starting in my childhood when I first became fascinated by the novels of Charles Dickens. Later, I graduated to reading about his life and became equally fascinated by his rags-to-riches story, his thwarted loves, his doomed marriage, and his secret mistress. The more I read, the more intriguing it seemed that a man so full of compassion for his fellow men—and who was such a supporter of family life and the sanctity of the home—came to act so harshly towards his wife. I was fascinated by the contradictory psychology of the man, and the psychology of the whole marriage (a supremely Victorian marriage), but it did not occur to me for many years that there was a novel in it. After all, the facts were a matter of public record, painstakingly researched by professional biographers; what could I add? I was in the meantime busily writing about contemporary men and women. However, the "Charles Dickens story" niggled away at me and gradually the notion evolved that maybe I could write something from the point of view of the scorned wife, a woman about ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Gaynor Arnold at BookBrowse

Recommended in Detail at BookBrowse

Girl in a Blue Dress
Girl in a Blue Dress

by Gaynor Arnold

A sweeping tale of love and loss, Girl in a Blue Dress is both an intimate peek at the woman who was behind one of literature’s most esteemed men and a fascinating rumination on marriage that will resonate across centuries.
Read More

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Gaynor Arnold but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Tracy Chevalier

    Tracy Chevalier

    Tracy Chevalier was born in Washington, DC but has lived in England all her adult life. She now has dual citizenship. She has a BA in English from Oberlin College, Ohio and an MA in creative writing from the University of ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Girl in a Blue Dress

    Try:
    Remarkable Creatures
    by Tracy Chevalier

  • Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin is the daughter of film producer Richard B. Goodwin (A Passage to India, Seven Years in Tibet) and writer/interior designer Jocasta Innes (Paint Magic), and the sister of the Edgar-winning writer Jason Goodwin (... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Girl in a Blue Dress

    Try:
    The American Heiress
    by Daisy Goodwin

We recommend 5 similar authors

View all 5 Readalikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and ambitious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.