Winterson, Jeanette 1959-

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Winterson, Jeanette 1959-


Born August 27, 1959, in Manchester, England; adopted daughter of a factory worker and Constance Winterson. Education: St. Catherine's College, Oxford, M.A., 1981.


Home and office—Gloucestershire, England; London, England. Agent—Caroline Michel, William Morris Agency, 52-53 Poland St., London W1F 7LX, England.


Writer. Verde's (delicatessen), London, England, owner.


Whitbread Award for best first novel, and Publishing for People Award, both 1985, both for Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit; John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize, British Book Trust, 1987, for The Passion; E.M. Forster Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1989, for Sexing the Cherry; Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International Film Festival, 1990, and FIPA d'Argent Award, Cannes Film Festival, 1991, both for Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (screenplay); Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction, 1994, for Written on the Body; International Fiction Award, Festival Letteratura Mantova, 1998; Order of the British Empire, 2006, for services to literature.



The King of Capri, illustrated by Jane Ray, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Tanglewreck, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2006.


Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (also see below), Pandora Press (London, England), 1985.

Boating for Beginners, illustrations by Paula Youens, Methuen (London, England), 1985.

The Passion, Bloomsbury (London, England), 1987.

Sexing the Cherry, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 1990.

Written on the Body, Knopf (New York, NY), 1993.

Art and Lies: A Piece for Three Voices and a Bawd, Knopf (New York, NY), 1995.

Gut Symmetries, Knopf (New York, NY), 1997.

The PowerBook, J. Cape (London, England), 2000.

Lighthousekeeping, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.

The Stone Gods, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2007.


(Editor) Passionfruit (stories), Pandora Press (London, England), 1986.

Fit for the Future: The Guide for Women Who Want to Live Well, Pandora Press (London, England), 1986.

Great Moments in Aviation [and] Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit: Two Filmscripts (produce on BBC2), Vintage (London, England), 1994.

Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery, Knopf (New York, NY), 1995.

The World and Other Places, Knopf (New York, NY), 1998.

(Author of introduction) Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

The PowerBook (stage adaptation of her novel), produced in London, England, 2002.

Weight, Canongate (New York, NY), 2005.


Jeanette Winterson is an award-winning British novelist who has stirred up some measure of controversy during her career due to the radical nature of her literary works and her sexuality. As a Contemporary Novelists contributor noted, Winterson "is often described as one of the most controversial yet innovative fiction writers in contemporary English literature," while Laura Miller commented in that the experimental novelist "has a reputation as a holy terror, a lesbian desperado and a literary genius."

Winterson began her literary career with 1985's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, a quasi-autobiographical novel about an adopted daughter's ties to her mother, a religious fanatic. Other books include Boating for Beginners, the award-winning historical novels The Passion and Sexing the Cherry, and the innovative The PowerBook. Los Angeles Times reviewer Richard Eder contrasted Sexing the Cherry with James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, and New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani deemed the work "wonderfully inventive." As Kakutani added of the innovative writer, Winterson "possesses the ability to combine the biting satire of [Jonathan] Swift with the ethereal magic of [Gabriel] García Márquez, the ability to reinvent old myths even as she creates new ones of her own."

In addition to her highly acclaimed novels for adults, with their literary grounding and sophisticated and mature themes, Winterson has also turned her attention to young readers, inspired by her goddaughter Eleanor. In The King of Capri she teams up with artist Jane Ray to retell an Italian folk story about a greedy monarch who learns what it is like to have nothing when a freak storm blows all his wealth and possessions across the water to the yard of a poor but well-meaning washerwoman. Calling Ray's collage illustrations "by turns magical and exotic," a Publishers Weekly contributor added that Winterson's text features "plenty of whimsy and snappy dialogue," and a Kirkus Reviews writer noted the story's "deeply Italian sensibility." Also remarking on the "whimsy" in Winterson's story, Booklist critic Gillian Engberg concluded that Ray's "stunning watercolor" images for The King of Capri "beautifully extend the fanciful tale."

Geared for middle-grade readers, Tanglewreck takes place on a future Earth where time is becoming distorted by tornado-like fluctuations that move objects from one time period to another in an instant. A collaboration between Winterson and the then-ten-year-old Eleanor, the novel follows the efforts of the evil but beautiful Regalia Mason to harness the power of these time disruptions for her own nefarious purposes. Meanwhile, an eleven-year-old orphaned girl named Silver Rivers is aided by friend Gabriel in fulfilling her destiny: to find the Timekeeper that will allow humans to gain control of time. In addition to Mason, Silver is imprisoned by Mrs. Rokabye and the evil alchemist Abel Darkwater in the hopes that she will reveal the location of the powerful timepiece. The novel "combines rousing adventure with time warps, quantum physics," and several quirky characters, according to Booklist critic Diana Tixier Herald, who compared Tanglewreck to novels by Madeline L'Engle and Lemony Snicket. Noting the "the sheer exhilaration of the adventure and the many fascinating historical and scientific allusions" in Winterson's novel, a Publishers Weekly contributor predicted that Tanglewreck "will keep readers engrossed through to the satisfying conclusion."



Contemporary Novelists, 7th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Contemporary Popular Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 207: British Novelists since 1960, Third Series, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999, pp. 301-308.


Booklist, October 1, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of The PowerBook, p. 325; November 15, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of The King of Capri, p. 604; October 1, 2006, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Tanglewreck, p. 54; March 15, 2008, Donna Seaman, review of The Stone Gods, p. 29

Boston Herald, November 10, 2000, review of The PowerBook, p. 50.

Chicago Tribune, July 5, 1988, Alan Cheuse, review of The Passion.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 1995, review of Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery, p. 1761; August 15, 2003, review of The King of Capri, p. 279; December 15, 2004, review of Lighthousekeeping, p. 1164; February 1, 2008, review of The Stone Gods.

Library Journal, December, 2001, Nancy Pearl and Catherine Ritchie, "Out of the Closet: Gay Literature," p. 212.

Los Angeles Times, May 3, 1990, Richard Eder, review of Sexing the Cherry.

Nation, February 12, 1996, Kelleher Jewett, review of Art Objects, p. 30.

New York Times, April 27, 1990, Michiko Kakutani, review of Sexing the Cherry.

New York Times Book Review, April 29, 1990, Michael Gorra, review of Sexing the Cherry, p. 24; November 19, 2000, David Galef, review of The PowerBook.

Observer (London, England), August 27, 2000, Kate Kellaway, "She's Got the Power."

Publishers Weekly, February 23, 1990, review of Sexing the Cherry, p. 204; March 17, 1997, review of Gut Symmetries, p. 76; October 30, 2000, review of The PowerBook, p. 45; August 11, 2003, review of The King of Capri, p. 279; July 31, 2006, review of Tanglewreck, p. 75; January 28, 2008, review of The Stone Gods, p. 39.

School Library Journal, February, 2004, Wendy Lukehart, review of The King of Capri, p. 125.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), November 8, 1987, Joseph Olshan, review of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, p. 8; December 3, 2000, review of The PowerBook, p. 6.

Washington Post, October 1, 1987, Sarah Gold, review of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.

Washington Post Book World, May 13, 1990, review of Sexing the Cherry, p. 9; March 24, 1996, Michael Dirda, review of Art Objects, p. 3.


Jeanette Winterson Home Page, (July 14, 2008).

London Times Online, (June 22, 2006), Jane Wheatley, "Time Travel Is Child's Play."

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Winterson, Jeanette 1959-

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