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Jeanette Winterson - book author

Novelist Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester, England in 1959. She was adopted and brought up in Accrington, Lancashire, in the north of England. Her strict Pentecostal Evangelist upbringing provides the background to her acclaimed first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, published in 1985. She graduated from St Catherine's College, Oxford, and moved to London where she worked as an assistant editor at Pandora Press.

One of the most original voices in British fiction to emerge during the 1980s, Winterson was named as one of the 20 "Best of Young British Writers" in a promotion run jointly between the literary magazine Granta and the Book Marketing Council.

She adapted Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit for BBC television in 1990 and also wrote "Great Moments in Aviation," a television screenplay directed by Beeban Kidron for BBC2 in 1994. She is editor of a series of new editions of novels by Virginia Woolf published in the UK by Vintage. She is a regular contributor of reviews and articles to many newspapers and journals and has a regular column published in The Guardian. Her radio drama includes the play Text Message, broadcast by BBC Radio in November 2001.

Winterson lives in Gloucestershire and London. Her work is published in 28 countries.

Jeanette Winterson is the author of books: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Written on the Body, The Passion, Sexing the Cherry, Lighthousekeeping, Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles, The Gap of Time, The Stone Gods, Gut Symmetries

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Author Books

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01
Alternate cover edition for 9780802135162

This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God's elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts.

At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves. Innovative, punchy and tender,

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a few days ride into the bizarre outposts of religious excess and human obsession.
02
Witty, acute, fierce, and celebratory, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a tough-minded search for belonging, for love, identity, home, and a mother.

Jeanette Winterson's novels have established her as a major figure in world literature. She has written some of the most admired books of the past few decades, including her internationally bestselling first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, the story of a young girl adopted by Pentecostal parents that is now often required reading in contemporary fiction.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a memoir about a life's work to find happiness. It's a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a religious zealot disguised as a mother who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the dresser, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in an north England industrial town now changed beyond recognition; about the Universe as Cosmic Dustbin.

It is the story of how a painful past that Jeanette thought she'd written over and repainted rose to haunt her, sending her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her biological mother.
03
Written on the Body is a secret code only visible in certain lights: the accumulation of a lifetime gather there. In places the palimpsest is so heavily worked that the letters feel like braille. I like to keep my body rolled away from prying eyes, never unfold too much, tell the whole story. I didn't know that Louise would have reading hands. She has translated me into her own book.
04
Jeanette Winterson’s novels have established her as one of the most important young writers in world literature. The Passion is perhaps her most highly acclaimed work, a modern classic that confirms her special claim on the novel. Set during the tumultuous years of the Napoleonic Wars, The Passion intertwines the destinies of two remarkable people: Henri, a simple French soldier, who follows Napoleon from glory to Russian ruin; and Villanelle, the red-haired, web-footed daughter of a Venetian boatman, whose husband has gambled away her heart. In Venice’s compound of carnival, chance, and darkness, the pair meet their singular destiny.

In her unique and mesmerizing voice, Winterson blends reality with fantasy, dream, and imagination to weave a hypnotic tale with stunning effects.
05
In a fantastic world that is and is not seventeenth-century England, a baby is found floating in the Thames. The child, Jordan, is rescued by Dog Woman and grows up to travel the world like Gulliver, though he finds that the world’s most curious oddities come from his own mind. Winterson leads the reader from discussions on the nature of time to Jordan’s fascination with journeys concealed within other journeys, all with a dizzying speed that shoots the reader from epiphany to shimmering epiphany.
06
Lighthousekeeping tells the tale of Silver ("My mother called me Silver. I was born part precious metal, part pirate."), an orphaned girl who is taken in by blind Mr. Pew, the mysterious and miraculously old keeper of a lighthouse on the Scottish coast. Pew tells Silver stories of Babel Dark, a nineteenth-century clergyman. Dark lived two lives: a public one mired in darkness and deceit and a private one bathed in the light of passionate love. For Silver, Dark's life becomes a map through her own darkness, into her own story, and, finally, into love.

One of the most original and extraordinary writers of her generation, Jeanette Winterson has created a modern fable about the transformative power of storytelling.

07
“When I was asked to choose a myth to write about, I realized I had chosen already. The story of Atlas holding up the world was in my mind before the telephone call had ended. If the call had not come, perhaps I would never have written the story, but when the call did come, that story was waiting to be written. Rewritten. The recurring language motif of Weight is ‘I want to tell the story again.’ My work is full of cover versions. I like to take stories we think we know and record them differently. In the retelling comes a new emphasis or bias, and the new arrangement of the key elements demands that fresh material be injected into the existing text. Weight moves far away from the simple story of Atlas’s punishment and his temporary relief when Heracles takes the world off his shoulders. I wanted to explore loneliness, isolation, responsibility, burden, and freedom, too, because my version has a very particular end not found elsewhere.” -- from Jeanette Winterson’s Foreword to Weight
08
The Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s “late plays.” It tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast, but through a series of extraordinary events, father and daughter, and eventually mother too, are reunited.

In The Gap of Time, Jeanette Winterson’s cover version of The Winter’s Tale, we move from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. Her story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology and the elliptical nature of time. Written with energy and wit, this is a story of the consuming power of jealousy on the one hand, and redemption and the enduring love of a lost child on the other.
09
On the airwaves, all the talk is of the new blue planet - pristine and habitable, like our own 65 million years ago, before we took it to the edge of destruction. And off the air, Billie and Spike are falling in love. What will happen when their story combines with the world's story.
10
Physics seems to have become the new language of love in the 1990s, and Jeanette Winterson is not the first writer to make a major character a physicist. Jonathan Lethem mined similar territory earlier this year in his delightful book, As She Climbed Across the Table, and now Winterson enters the lists with not one, but two physicists populating the pages of her equally wonderful book, Gut Symmetries. If you think about it, physics does make a good metaphor for love, encompassing as it does the principles of attraction, the exchange of energy, and unification. At the center of this meditation on "the intelligence of the universe" and "the stupidity of humankind" are Jove, a married physicist; Alice, a single physicist who becomes his mistress; and Stella, Jove's wife and later, Alice's lover. They meet on the QE2 and from there the three participants in the story take turns telling their versions of it.

Gut Symmetries is a collage of memories, snippets of scientific theory, meditations on abstract concepts like truth, and the events surrounding Jove, Alice, and Stella's affair. This is a book that demands your attention, jumping as it does from one seemingly tangential topic to another; but whereas physics still seeks a grand unification theory (GUT) to explain how everything in the universe fits together, Winterson actually finds one of her own in this satisfyingly complete fictional world.