Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Gaynor Arnold biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Read-Alikes

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, 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. The book was listed for both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker prize. She also wrote Lying Together (2011), After Such Kindness (2012), and co-authored The Sea in Birmingham (2013).

Gaynor Arnold's website

This bio was last updated on 09/19/2014. In a perfect world, we would like to keep all of BookBrowse's biographies up to date, but with many thousands of lives to keep track of it's simply impossible to do. So, if the date of this bio is not recent, you may wish to do an internet search for a more current source, such as the author's website or social media presence. If you are the author or publisher and would like us to update this biography, send the complete text and we will replace the old with the new.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Interview

A conversation with Gaynor Arnold about her first novel, Girl in a Blue Dress, inspired by the life of Charles Dickens's second wife, Catherine Dickens.

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 whose thoughts and feelings relatively little is known. This notion ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Gaynor Arnold at BookBrowse
Girl in a Blue Dress jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

All the books below are recommended as read-alikes 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 read-alikes

  • 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 author of the New York Times bestselling novels The Fortune Hunter The American Heiress. She is a Harkness scholar who attended Columbia University's film school after earning a degree in history at... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Girl in a Blue Dress

    Try:
    The American Heiress
    by Daisy Goodwin

We recommend 5 similar authors

View all 5 Read-Alikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    Cecilia
    by K-Ming Chang
    In the first few pages of K-Ming Chang's bizarre yet engrossing novella Cecilia, Seven, the ...
  • Book Jacket: Women and Children First
    Women and Children First
    by Alina Grabowski
    After Lucy Anderson falls to her death at a high school party, no one in Nashquitten, her gloomy, ...
  • Book Jacket: Henry Henry
    Henry Henry
    by Allen Bratton
    Allen Bratton's Henry Henry chronicles a year in the life of Hal Lancaster. Readers already ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Murder at the End of the World
    The Last Murder at the End of the World
    by Stuart Turton
    The island is the only safe place left on Earth. Since a deadly fog overtook the planet, the ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The Pecan Children
by Quinn Connor
Two sisters deeply tied to their small Southern town fight to break free of the darkness swallowing the land whole.
Book Jacket
Look on the Bright Side
by Kristan Higgins
From the author of Pack Up the Moon comes a funny, romantic, and moving novel about life's unexpected rewards.
Win This Book
Win Bright and Tender Dark

Bright and Tender Dark by Joanna Pearson

A beautifully written, wire-taut debut novel about a murder on a college campus and its aftermath twenty years later.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A W in S C

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.