Joanne Harris was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire on July 3, 1964, her mother is
French, her father English. She was educated at Wakefield Girls' High and
Barnsley Sixth Form College, and then read Modern and Mediaeval Languages at
Saint Catharine's College, Cambridge. After a number of heroic career
failures (rock musician, herbalist, accountant) she succumbed to genetic
pressure and became a French teacher for 12 years at a boys' grammar school in
Leeds, and later taught a French Literature course at Sheffield University.
Her first novel, The Evil Seed, was published in 1989, although she strongly advises against reading it. Since then she has written Sleep, Pale Sister (1993); Chocolat (1999); Blackberry Wine (2000); Five Quarters of the Orange (2001), Coastliners (2002), Holy Fools (2003), Jigs and Reels (2004), Gentlemen and Players (2005), The French Market (2005), The Lollipop Shoes (2007), Runemarks (2008), Blueeyedboy (2010), and a cookbook-memoir My French Kitchen (2002). Her books have been published in 40 countries and have won a number of British and international awards.
She was awarded an honorary D.Lit (Doctor of Letters) by the University of Huddersfield in 2003 and also by the University of Sheffield in 2004.
According to her website her hobbies include "mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion of the system, although she also enjoys obfuscation, sleaze, rebellion, witchcraft, armed robbery, tea and biscuits. She is not above bribery and would not necessarily refuse an offer involving exotic travel, champagne or yellow diamonds from Graff. She plays bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16, is currently studying Old Norse and lives with her husband Kevin and her daughter Anouchka, about 15 miles from the place she was born."
About This Biography
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Joanne Harris discusses Gentlemen & Players and her work in general.
Every time I bring out a new book, Ive noticed the same set of conflicting
reactions from some elements of the Press. One faction inevitably complains
about how very different the present book is from the previous one (as if in
resentment at my having escaped the Sisyphean fate of rolling the same book
uphill throughout eternity), while the opposing faction sets out to prove how
all of my books are exactly the same. Some reviewers are so sure of their
ability to predict where Im going next that they barely bother to glance at the
book at all, with embarrassing results (check out the journalist who described
Coastliners as another of Harris sweeping historical epics, or the one who
based her entire review of Jigs & Reels on a single story and wrote how once
more, food and France play a leading role in this feelgood confection.)
You may already know that I dont like expectations. You may also be aware of how I feel about being pushed, stamped, marked, labelled, briefed, debriefed and numbered.
Thats why I published Jigs & Reels; to escape the box; to explore uncharted ...
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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