About Claire

Photographer: Chris Loupos

Claire Harman began her career in publishing, at Carcanet Press and the Manchester-based poetry magazine PN Review, where she was co-ordinating editor. Her first book, a biography of the writer Sylvia Townsend Warner, was published in 1989 and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for ‘a writer of growing stature’ under the age of 35. She went on to publish biographies of Fanny Burney and Robert Louis Stevenson and edit works by Stevenson and Warner. Her bestselling Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World appeared in 2009 and her landmark biography of Charlotte Brontë in 2015, followed by Murder by the Book; A Sensational Chapter in Victorian Crime in 2018. All Sorts of Lives: Katherine Mansfield and the Art of Risking Everything was published in January 2023 to mark the centenary of Mansfield’s death, and the paperback is due in January 2024.

In September 2015, Claire was awarded a Forward Prize for Poetry. She won the Tom-Gallon Award in 2016 for her short story, ‘Otherwise Engaged’ and was a runner-up for the prize in 2014, and for the V.S.Pritchett Prize for short fiction in 2008.

Claire has taught English at the Universities of Manchester and Oxford and creative writing at Columbia University in New York City. She has been Professor of Creative Writing at Durham University since 2016. Claire has appeared many times on radio and television, including Radio 3’s The Essay and Literary Pursuits, BBC 4’s Battle of the Books, Inside Out, Lucy Worsley’s A Very British Romance and The One Show and she writes regularly for the literary press on both sides of the Atlantic, reviewing books, films, plays and exhibitions.

 She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006 and was President of The Alliance of Literary Societies  from 2016- 2021. She is a judge of the J.R. Ackerley Prize (for memoir and autobiography) and in 2021 became a member of English Heritage’s Blue Plaques Panel.

Claire was the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford from 2017-18.

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