Jacqueline Winspear was
born and raised in the county of Kent, England. Following higher
education at the University of London's Institute of Education,
Jacqueline worked in both general and academic publishing, in higher
education and in marketing communications in the UK.
She emigrated to the United States in 1990, and while working in business and as a personal/professional coach, she embarked upon a life-long dream to be a writer.
A regular contributor to journals covering international education, Jacqueline has published articles in women's magazines and has also recorded her essays for KQED radio in San Francisco. She currently divides her time between Ojai and the San Francisco Bay Area. Jacqueline is also a regular visitor to the United Kingdom and Europe.
Jacqueline's first two novels: Maisie Dobbs and Birds of a Feather, along with her third novel, Pardonable Lies, are set in the late 1920's and early 1930's, with the roots of the story set in the Great War, 1914-1918.
Jacqueline's grandfather was severely wounded and shell-shocked at The Battle of the Somme in 1916, and it was as she understood the extent of his suffering that, even in childhood, Jacqueline became deeply interested in the "war to end all wars" and its aftereffects. As an adult her interest deepened to the extent that, though she did not set out to write a "war" novel, it came as no surprise that this part of history formed the backdrop of Maisie Dobbs and other books in the series. The unique and engaging character of Maisie Dobbs is very much a woman of her generation. She has come of age at a time when women took on the toil of men and claimed independence that was difficult to relinquish. It was a time when many women remained unmarried, simply because a generation of men had gone to war and not come home.
"The war and its aftermath provide fertile ground for a mystery. Such great social upheaval allows for the strange and unusual to emerge and a time of intense emotions can, to the writer of fiction, provide ample fodder for a compelling story, especially one concerning criminal acts and issues of guilt and innocence. After all, a generation is said to have lost its innocence in The Great War. The mystery genre provides a wonderful vehicle for exploring such a time," explains Ms Winspear.
Maisie Dobbs, a National Bestseller, received an array of accolades including New York Times Notable Book 2003, a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Mystery 2003, and a BookSense Top Ten selection. In addition, the novel was nominated for 7 awards, including the Edgar for Best Novel -- only the second time a first novel has been nominated in this category. Winspear won the prestigious Agatha Award for Best First novel, the Macavity Award for Best First Novel; and the Alex Award, which is presented annually by the American Library Association in conjunction with the Margaret Alexander Edwards Trust.
The sequel, Birds of a Feather, which was published in June 2004, became a BookSense Top Ten pick in 2004. It was highly acclaimed by reviewers, garnering nominations for the Southern California Booksellers Association Best Mystery 2004, and that year's Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's Dilys Winn Award.
Jacqueline's third novel, Pardonable Lies, was published by Henry Holt in September 2005 as their lead fiction title. It went on to win the first Macavity / Sue Feder Best Historical Mystery Award. Next came her fourth book, Messenger of Truth, which was nominated in 2006 for an Agatha Award for Best Novel. This honor was gained by each of the first four Maisie Dobbs books!
Further books in the series have followed, as shown below.
Rights to develop a television series based on the Maisie Dobbs books were acquired by Film and General Productions in the UK but, at the time of writing, a series does not appear to be under development.
Series Order to Date
1. Maisie Dobbs (2003)
2. Birds of a Feather (2004)
3. Pardonable Lies (2005)
4. Messenger of Truth (2006)
5. An Incomplete Revenge (2008)
6. Among the Mad (2009)
7.The Mapping of Love and Death (2010)
8. A Lesson in Secrets (2011)
9. Elegy for Eddie (2012)
10. Leaving Everything Most Loved (2013)
Jacqueline Winspear's website
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A Conversation with Jacqueline Winspear (2008)
Apart from being a series of wonderful mysteries, the Maisie Dobbs novels have helped to acquaint readers with a place and time of
which they might otherwise have known very little: England between the world
wars. What, at a minimum, would you like for your readers - especially your
non-British readers - to know about this period and what the First World War
did to British society?
One of the most gratifying things that has happened since the books were published is that so many people have e-mailed or written to me to tell me that my books have encouraged them to find out more about this period of time and how the world was impacted by the Great War and the years until the outbreak of the Second World War. I would like my readers to understand something of history's gray areas, which are often well-served by fiction. For example, we know about the Depression of the twenties and thirties, and we know there was a Roaring Twenties, but that only takes care of rich, poor, and rich becoming poor. The grand parties of the twenties only roared for a certain echelon of society, and there was a whole segment that was virtually untouched by the depression -...
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