Frances Hardinge is a writer who wears a black hat. Notoriously unphotographable, she is rumoured to be made entirely out of velvet. Sources close to Frances who prefer not to be named suggest that she has an Evil Twin who wears white and is hatless. This cannot be confirmed.
Frances grew up in an old house in rural Kent, England where the wind wuthered. She has always liked dark stories – when she was six, she wrote a short story that included an attempted poisoning, a faked death and a villain being thrown off a cliff – all in just one page! Later she read English at Oxford University amid medieval towers and gargoyle-strung chapels.
Frances Hardinge has been writing for years but didn't submit anything for publication until her friend, the author Rhiannon Lassiter, stole her novel and gave it to an editor at Macmillan. She was swiftly contracted to write the novel, Fly By Night, which was published to rave reviews. She later signed a three book deal which enabled her to write full time.
Frances was the 2006 winner of the Branford Boase award and was also shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction prize and the William Crawford award among others. In 2007 her second book, Verdigris Deep / Well Witched , a stand-alone novel with a modern setting, was published to high acclaim, and chosen as one of School Library Journal's Best Children's Books of 2008.
In 2009 her third novel was published as Gullstruck Island in the UK and The Lost Conspiracy in the US. It reached the finals of the Young Adult Category for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and was also a finalist for the School Library Journal's Battle of the Books.
2011 saw the publication of her long-awaited sequel to Fly by Night, released as Twilight Robbery in the UK and as Fly Trap in the US. It was shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, was longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, and was one of the New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing.
Her fifth book, published in May 2012, was A Face Like Glass, a stand-alone tale of deception, cheese-making, betrayal and strategic amnesia. It was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and for the UK Literary Association Book Award 2013, as well as being voted one of the Top 100 Best Ever UKYA Novels.
In October 2012 her short story 'Payment Due' was published in Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, a collection of eighteen witch-themed tales by authors such as Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix, Holly Black and Tanith Lee. In September 2013, another short story by Frances appeared in Twisted Winter, a collection of eerie winter tales. Frances' story is titled 'Flawless', and appeared alongside work by Susan Cooper, Catherine Butler, Rhiannon Lassiter, Liz Williams, Frances Thomas and Katherine Langrish.
Her sixth book, Cuckoo Song, was released in May 2014. This changeling tale set in the 1920s won the prestigious Robert Holdstock Award for Best Novel at the British Fantasy Awards 2015. It was featured in The Sunday Times as their Children's Book of the Week, and was selected for the Booktrust Best Book Guide 2014 (12–14 years category). It was also chosen as one of the Sunday Times 100 Modern Children's Classics, and has been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, the James Herbert Award, and the British Science Fiction Association's Best Novel Award.
Frances's seventh book, The Lie Tree, is a Victorian murder mystery. It won the prestigious Costa Book of the Year 2015 award, and the 2016 Boston Globe / Horn Book Fiction Award, as well as the UKLA Book Awards (12–16 years category) and the LA Times Book Award for Young Adult Literature. The Spanish edition of the illustrated version of The Lie Tree, published by Editoral Bambú, won the Kelvin Award for the best Young Adult novel translated into Spanish. The Hebrew edition (Utz) won the Fantastic Library's Golden Griffin Award for best fantasy novel in 2017. It has also been shortlisted for the Independent Booksellers Week Award 2015, the , and the YA Book Prize; and longlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction prize 2015! The Italian edition published by Mondadori was shortlisted for the Premio Strega Ragazze e Ragazzi, 11+ category.
A Skinful of Shadows, a macabre ghostly thriller set during the English Civil War, was published in 2017. It won the Dracula Society's Children of the Night Award for Gothic fiction; and it has been shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year, the Independent Booksellers' Week Book Award (children's category), the Calderdale Book of the Year award, the Young Adult category of the Locus Awards and the WSFS Young Adult Book Award.
On June 14th 2018, Frances became a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She was permitted to sign her name in the huge, old, red-and-gold Roll Book using George Eliot's dip pen. This was all highly exciting, and she still can't quite believe it really happened.
You can send a message to Frances by clicking here.
If you'd like copies of high-resolution photos of Frances for press or other purposes, please contact her here.