novelist, children's writer, and short‐story writer, born in Coatham, North Yorkshire. Her first novel, God on the Rocks (1978), follows the growth of Margaret Marsh towards adult experience and loss of faith. Bilgewater (1976) is a journey of enlightenment through the snares of adolescence; The Queen of the Tambourine (1991) is a psychological thriller set in suburbia. Later novels include The Flight of the Maidens (2000), which follows the lives of three girls about to enter university; and Old Filth (2004, Orange Prize for Fiction), in which a newly widowed retired colonial judge reflects on his past from childhood as an ‘orphan of the Raj’. Among many short story collections are The Sidmouth Letters (1980), whose title story explores the subject of Jane Austen's love life with subtlety and imaginative tact; other stories create the lives of varied characters with similar economy and observant detail, including those collected in Black Faces, White Faces (1975), The Pangs of Love (1983), and Going into a Dark House (1994).