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Emma Donoghue

Born in Dublin, Ireland, in October 1969, I am the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue (the literary critic). I attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one eye-opening year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 I earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin (unfortunately, without learning to actually speak French). I moved to England, and in 1997 received my PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of Cambridge. From the age of 23, I have earned my living as a writer, and have been lucky enough to never have an ‘honest job’ since I was sacked after a single summer month as a chambermaid. After years of commuting between England, Ireland, and Canada, in 1998 I settled in London, Ontario, where I live with Chris Roulston and our son Finn and daughter Una.

Literary History

I began my career with Passions Between Women: British Lesbian Culture 1668-1801 (UK 1993, US 1996), and followed it up with We Are Michael Field (1998, a biography of a pair of Victorian women writers).  I have edited two anthologies, Poems Between Women: Four Centuries of Love, Romantic Friendship and Desire (UK title What Sappho Would Have Said) (1997) and The Mammoth Book of Lesbian Short Stories (1999) as well as publishing a range of scholarly articles. In 2010 Knopf and Random House Canada brought out my study of a thousand years of plot motifs in Western literature, Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature, which won the Stonewall Non-Fiction Award from the American Library Association.

I have also taught creative writing for the Cheltenham Literary Festival and the Arvon Foundation, been a writer-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario and the University of York (UK), co-presenter of a primetime book series on Irish television, and a judge for the Irish Times Literature Prizes and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Award for Fiction.