Kate Atkinson

Atkinson signing books at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (August 2007)
Atkinson signing books at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (August 2007)
Born (1951-12-20) 20 December 1951 (age 70)
York, England
Alma materUniversity of Dundee
GenreCrime fiction

Kate Atkinson MBE (born 20 December 1951) is an English writer of novels, plays and short stories.[1] She is known for creating the Jackson Brodie series of detective novels, which has been adapted into the BBC One series Case Histories.[1][2] She won the Whitbread Book of the Year prize in 1995 in the Novels category for Behind the Scenes at the Museum, winning again in 2013 and 2015 under its new name the Costa Book Awards.[1]

Early life

The daughter of a shopkeeper, Atkinson was born in York, the setting for several of her books.[3] She studied English literature at the University of Dundee, gaining her master's degree in 1974.[1] Atkinson subsequently studied for a doctorate in American literature, with a thesis titled "The post-modern American short story in its historical context".[3] She failed at the viva (oral examination) stage. After leaving the university, she took on a variety of jobs, from home help to legal secretary and teacher.[4]

Writing career

Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year and went on to be a Sunday Times bestseller. Since then, she has published further novels, as well as plays and short stories.[1][5] Some of her books are part of a series of novels, starting with Case Histories, which feature the character of Jackson Brodie as a private investigator and former police inspector.[1] Atkinson has criticised the media's coverage of her work – when she won the Whitbread award, for example, it was the fact that she was a "single mother" who lived outside London that received the most attention.[6] In a 2018 interview she declared that she did not spend time in great literary parties or the London high life.[6]

In 2009, she donated the short story "Lucky We Live Now" to Oxfam's Ox-Tales project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Atkinson's story was published in the Earth collection.[7][8]

In March 2010, Atkinson appeared at the York Literature Festival, giving a world-premier reading from an early chapter from her novel Started Early, Took My Dog (2010), which is set mainly in the English city of Leeds.

Atkinson was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours for services to literature.[9] On 30 November 2018, she was the guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs.[6]



Novels featuring Jackson Brodie


Story collections

Television adaptations

The first four Jackson Brodie novels have been adapted by other writers for the BBC under the series titled Case Histories, featuring Jason Isaacs as Brodie.[2]

In 2015 in the United States, Shonda Rhimes was in the process of developing a pilot called The Catch, based on a treatment written by Atkinson, and starring Mireille Enos.[14][15] Her 2013 novel, Life After Life, was screened as a BBC drama in 2022.

Awards and honours

Personal life

Atkinson has been married twice: while a student, to the father of her first daughter Eve, and subsequently to the father of her second daughter Helen.[3]

Atkinson lived in Whitby, North Yorkshire,[8] for a time, but now lives in Edinburgh.[5]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Kate Atkinson – Literature". literature.britishcouncil.org. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b Hale, Mike (14 October 2011). "Jackson Brodie Mysteries on PBS – Review". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Brown, Helen (29 August 2004). "A writer's life: Kate Atkinson". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  4. ^ Clark, Alex (10 March 2001). "A life in writing: Kate Atkinson". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Edinburgh author Kate Atkinson has revealed a secret of her success". The Scotsman. 25 November 2018. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  6. ^ a b c "Kate Atkinson, novelist". Desert Island Discs. BBC Radio 4. 30 November 2018. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Ox-Tales". Oxfam. Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
  8. ^ a b "Charity to benefit from county writer's stories". whitbygazette.co.uk. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  9. ^ "No. 59808". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 2011. p. 13.
  10. ^ Campbell, Lisa (7 December 2017). "'Powerful' Kate Atkinson novel coming next year | The Bookseller". www.thebookseller.com. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  11. ^ Allardice, Presented by Lisa; Tresilian, Sian Cain Produced by Susannah (11 September 2018). "Kate Atkinson on her new novel, Transcription – books podcast". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  12. ^ Atkinson, Kate. "Big Sky". penguin.co.uk. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  13. ^ Cowdrey, Katherine (4 December 2018). "Atkinson to publish new Jackson Brodie novel in 2019 | The Bookseller". www.thebookseller.com. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  14. ^ Elavsky, Cindy (12 March 2015). "Celebrity Extra". King Features. Archived from the original on 25 November 2015. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  15. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (21 October 2014). "Shonda Rhimes Teams Up With British TV showrunner Julie Annie Robinson For 'The Long Game' – Deadline Hollywood". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  16. ^ [dead link] Allen, Kate (7 September 2009). "Coben, Cole, Atkinson vie for crime awards". The Bookseller. Archived from the original on 10 September 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  17. ^ "Former winners recapture Costa prize". BBC News. 6 January 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  18. ^ "Walter Scott Prize Shortlist 2014". Walter Scott Prize. 4 April 2014. Archived from the original on 15 April 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  19. ^ "South Bank Sky Arts Awards – Winners 2014". West End Theatre. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  20. ^ "Costa Book Awards" (PDF). Costa Novel Award Winner 2015. Costa Coffee. 5 January 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 January 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.