Born in Wales. Education: Attended University of Durham; King's College London, Ph.D.
Writer and scientist. Has worked as a developmental scientist, science teacher, research associate, and creative writing tutor.
Kathleen Fidler Award, 1995, for Edge of Danger; Arts Council of England Award, 2001, for Wegener's Jigsaw.
Edge of Danger, Dutton (London, England), 1995.
Wegener's Jigsaw (novel), Sceptre (London, England), 2003, published as One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.
98 Reasons for Being (novel), Sceptre (London, England), 2004.
Clare Dudman found the inspiration for her first novel, One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead, in the fact that the ground she walks on never stops moving. The novel, first published in Britain as Wegener's Jigsaw, is the fictionalized account of the life of Alfred Wegener, a German meteorologist from the early 1900s who first proposed the geological theory of continental drift. "The idea that the apparently solid ground is, in fact, moving seemed to me to be quite astonishing," Dudman commented in an interview with Jeff Vandermeer in Publishers Weekly. The idea was equally astonishing, and unacceptable, to Wegener's peers, who scorned and ridiculed the notion. Wegener, however, based his theory on careful study of Arctic landscapes and glaciers—observations made during dangerous scientific expeditions to the planet's coldest areas. Encouraged by his wife, Else, Wegener persisted in his work, believing that his ideas of continental movement would one day be acknowledged as fact. During an expedition to Greenland, Wegener perished in the cold tundra. Shortly after his death, his theory gained acceptance and eventually became the basis for the science of plate tectonics.
Library Journal reviewer Edward B. St. John observed, "Biographical novels are always problematic in that the reader never knows how much the author has invented." Dudman herself noted in her Publishers Weekly interview that she was "a little worried about writing his story in the first person to begin with—a British woman of the twenty-first century pretending to be a German male scientist at the end of the nineteenth century seemed audacious"; however, encouragement from her agent convinced her to persist with the project in first person. Always mindful of the science behind the story, Dudman reconstructs Wegener's life from his childhood in Berlin to his tragic demise in Greenland, with all the controversies, joys, and disappointments of a life lived in dedication to knowledge.
A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the book a "wise, beautiful" and "stunning" novel, commenting that "Dudman's prose is luminous" and observing that the author "displays an astute gift for characterization." Dudman "blends impressive research with a dignified prose style that effectively evokes the turn of the twentieth century," remarked a Kirkus Reviews contributor. "It's a work with small appeal for casual readers but one that will fascinate anyone with an interest in how science is done." Booklist contributor Janet St. John called One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead "a thorough, as well as a thoroughly intriguing, novel that beautifully portrays one truly fascinating man."
In her next biographical novel, 98 Reasons for Being, Dudman again enters the mind of a nineteenth-century scientist, this time Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann. In the year 1852, Hoffmann, a physician, politician, and author of the children's book Struwwelpeter, is operating an asylum for mentally disturbed patients when he comes across the disturbing case of Hannah Meyer. Hannah, a Jewish girl from a Frankfurt ghetto, will not speak to anyone, and less skilled doctors have labeled her a nymphomaniac. As Hoffmann probes the mysteries of the troubled child, he learns about not only her secrets but also some of his own, coming to understand what the real meaning of being is. While the character Hoffmann is based on the real physician, Dudman used case notes from the period to reconstruct the characters of the patients in her story.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 2004, Janet St. John, review of One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead, p. 1035.
Bookseller, August 10, 2001, "How to Kick Out Chick Lit," p. 30.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2003, review of One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead, p. 1411.
Library Journal, February 15, 2004, Edward B. St. John, review of One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead, p. 160.
Publishers Weekly, September 10, 2001, John F. Baker, "Viking's Prize-winning U.K. Buy," p. 16; February 9, 2004, review of One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead, p. 58; February 9, 2004, Jeff Vandermeer, "The Poetry of Science," p. 58.
Clare Dudman Home Page,http://www.claredudman.com (July 29, 2004).*