Rogers, Jane 1952–

views updated

Rogers, Jane 1952–

PERSONAL: Born July 21, 1952, in London, England; daughter of Andrew W. (a professor) and Margaret (a nurse) Rogers; married Michael Harris (a writer and teacher), March, 1981; children: two. Education: New Hall, Cambridge, B.A. (with honors), 1974; Leicester University, postgraduate certificate of education, 1976.

ADDRESSES: Home—Lancashire, England. Agent—Peters, Fraser & Dunlop Group LTD., Drury House, 34-43 Russell St., London WC2B 5HA, England.

CAREER: Writer, editor, and educator. Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, England, professor of writing. Royal Literature Fund fellow at Warwick University, 2003–04; visiting research fellow, University of Adelaide, Australia, 2007. Worked as a fiction reviewer for a local newspaper and at a mental hospital, for a housing association, and at homes for children.

MEMBER: Royal Society of Literature (fellow).

AWARDS, HONORS: Northwest Arts Grant for Writers, Arts Council of Great Britain, 1983; Somerset Maugham Award, 1984, for Her Living Image; Samuel Beckett Award, 1990, for Dawn and the Candidate; Writers Guild Best Fiction Award, 1996, for Promised Lands. Arts Council of England Writer's Bursary, 1996, for Island.



Separate Tracks, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1983.

Her Living Image, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1984, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1986.

The Ice Is Singing, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1987.

Mr. Wroe's Virgins (historical), Faber & Faber (London, England), 1992.

Promised Lands, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1995.

Island, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 2000.

The Voyage Home, Little, Brown (London, England), 2004.


(Editor) Good Fiction Guide, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001, 2nd edition, 2005.

(Editor, with Diran Adebayo and Blake Morrison) New Writing 12, Picador (London, England), 2003.

Author of television dramas Dawn and the Candidate and Mr. Wroe's Virgins (adapted from Rogers' novel of the same title). Has also adapted works by other authors for radio. Contributor to fiction anthologies, including Ellipsis 2, Comma Press (Manchester, England), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS: Jane Rogers is a critically acclaimed English author and educator. Known primarily for her novels, including Separate Tracks, Her Living Image, The Ice Is Singing, and Islands, Rogers is also the author of an award-winning teleplay, Dawn and the Candidate.

Separate Tracks, Rogers' first novel, traces the lives of Emma, a middle-class woman from a broken home, and Anthony, a child abandoned to an institution while still an infant. They meet when Emma accepts a temporary position at the foster home where Anthony lives, and eventually Anthony becomes a prevailing influence upon her emotions and her political beliefs. Times Literary Supplement contributor John Melmoth called the book "an impeccable piece of social realism," while praising Rogers' "considerable narrative versatility and command of nuance." Rogers once told CA: "Although I had been writing for years, Separate Tracks was the first manuscript I ever sent to a publisher or agent, and I was lucky enough to have it accepted within a week."

Rogers' Mr. Wroe's Virgins, published in 1992, is the story of John Wroe, a charismatic, self-proclaimed prophet who claims that God has instructed him to take seven virgins into his home. Based on actual events, the story follows Wroe and the seven women who live with him for a period of nine months. "Part morality tale, part history; packed with accurate details of early 19th-century life, the stories of Leah, Joanna, Hannah and Martha unfold as they cope with the hypocrisy, blind beliefs and idealism of the sexually threatening prophet," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor. Steffanie Brown wrote in Booklist: "Gracefully written and immensely powerful, this imaginative reconstruction of what nine months with a peculiar patriarch might have been like is also an insightful exploration of the interplay between faith, passion, and betrayal."

Rogers' Promised Lands combines two main narrative threads. The first story tells of William Dawes, a member of the first British settlement in Australia. The second story is that of Stephen Beech, a modern-day author writing about Dawes, whose wife, Olla, believes their child, a crippled boy named Daniel, is the world's savior. Critics were enthusiastic in their response to Promised Lands. "Intensely atmospheric, structurally sophisticated and deeply political, this is a challenging and hypnotic work," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. Booklist contributor Eric Robbins called the work "an engrossing meditation on illusions and reality." Robbins added: "Themes within the story constantly echo and reverberate in this extremely satisfying work." Joshua Cohen also lauded the work in the Library Journal, commenting: "Rogers's superbly crafted narrative immerses the reader in the harsh choices and conditions of colonial life."

Rogers' 2000 work, Island, is the story of Nikki Black, a young woman whose mother abandoned her nearly thirty years before by leaving her on the steps of a London post office. Nikki travels to the Scottish Hebrides to find her mother and exact her revenge. Nikki's plan to murder her mother is complicated, however, by the existence of Calum, her innocent half-brother. Calling the novel a "brooding, furiously powerful tale," a Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote: "This tale of a madness … is also a complex rendering of the art of storytelling, where history and invention seem to purposefully converge, each to transform the other."

In Rogers' novel The Voyage Home, Anne Harrington is returning home to England after taking care of her late father's affairs in Africa. When she comes across his journal during the sea voyage, she discovers that what she remembers about her father does not coincide with his journal entries, which reveal a devastating secret. At the same time, Harrington becomes involved in helping a couple who are stowaways, leading her to become involved in a murder. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the novel "a lusciously written tale, rich in emotional nuance." Allison Block, writing in Booklist, commented that the author "is a master at blending gripping narrative and nuanced prose." In a review for the Spectator, Sandra Howard noted: "The writing is lyrical." Rogers also served as editor of Good Fiction Guide, which Library Journal contributor Marilyn Rosenthal called "unique," noting that the reference book includes "popular and genre fiction for both adults and teens … classics, contemporary literature, and international works translated into English."



Booklist, April 15, 1997, Eric Robbins, review of Promised Lands, p. 1386; June 1, 1999, Steffanie Brown, review of Mr. Wroe's Virgins, p. 1795; June 1, 2004, Allison Block, review of The Voyage Home, p. 1705.

Financial Times, February 19, 1983.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2000, review of Island, p. 1139; June 1, 2004, review of The Voyage Home, p. 514.

Library Journal, April 1, 1997, Joshua Cohen, review of Promised Lands, p. 131; November 15, 2001, Marilyn Rosenthal, review of Good Fiction Guide, p. 60.

New Statesman & Society, September 1, 1995, Judy Cooke, review of Promised Lands, p. 32.

New York Times Book Review, August 17, 1986, Barbara Tritel, review of Her Living Image, p. 22; September 21, 1997, David Willis McCullough, review of Promised Lands, p. 20; August 22, 1999, Kathryn Harrison, review of Mr. Wroe's Virgins, p. 10.

Publishers Weekly, April 25, 1986, Sybil Steinberg, review of Her Living Image, p. 65; March 10, 1997, review of Promised Lands, p. 49; April 12, 1999, review of Mr. Wroe's Virgins, p. 51; July 5, 2004, review of The Voyage Home, p. 37.

Spectator, April 10, 2004, Sandra Howard, review of The Voyage Home, p. 35.

Times Literary Supplement, February 11, 1983, John Melmoth, review of Separate Tracks, p. 130.

About this article

Rogers, Jane 1952–

Updated About content Print Article