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 has since published biographies of Fanny Burney and Robert Louis Stevenson and edited works by Stevenson and Warner. Her bestselling Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World was published in 2009 and her major new biography of Charlotte Brontë to mark the author’s bicentenary was published in 2015 by Viking Penguin UK.
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 is now Professor of Creative Writing at Durham University. 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, 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 became President of The Alliance of Literary Societies in 2016. 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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