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
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
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.
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