Susanna Clarke, a Methodist Minister’s eldest daughter was born in Nottingham, England in 1959. Oxford educated (philosophy, politics and economics at St Hilda’s College), she is best known for her award winning novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which was published in 2004.
Clarke spent eight years working in publishing before moving to Turin, Italy in 1990. In Italy she taught English to employees of the Fiat motor company before moving to Bilbao in Spain in 1991 to teach English. She moved back to England in 1992.
In 1993, she began writing Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. The novel took ten years to complete, and a period she herself describes as "a crazy amount of time to spend on anything". During these ten years she worked as a cookery editor for the company Simon and Schuster in Cambridge. The book is dedicated to Susanna Clarke's brother Paul Frederick Gunn Clarke, who died in the year 2000.
"I always really liked magicians. I’m not even sure why—except that they know things other people don’t and they live in untidy rooms full of strange objects. In C. S. Lewis’s Narnia stories there are only two magicians. One is weak and wicked, and the other barely gets two lines of dialogue. But they both fascinated me. One (the weak one) has a tray of magic rings, green and yellow, as shiny and bright as sweets. They’re magic, they’re jewellery and they look like scrummy sweets. What’s not to like?"
Susanna Clarke interview with BBC Nottingham
Although it took the publication of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell to make Susanna Clarke a household name, she had already had seven short stories published in the United States. Of these, Mr Simonelli, or The Fairy Widower was short listed for the 1991 World Fantasy Award.
These are her five favourite authors as mentioned in a BBC interview.
Susanna Clarke lists boredom and listlessness as two contributing factors in becoming a writer.
Susanna Clarke is married to fellow author Colin Greenland and is currently writing a follow up to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell but set a few years in the future and centres on different characters. She currently lives in Cambridge.
"Dazzling, witty and gleefully entertaining ... A triumph of traditional imaginative storytelling, this is an energetic, engaging and inventive tale that simply kidnaps the lucky reader to participate in a rare experience" Irish Times