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 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 has also been chosen as one of the Sunday Times 100 Modern Children's Classics and longlisted for the Carnegie Medal.
At present Frances is working on a Victorian murder mystery. After her family retreat to a remote island, a young girl tries to unravel the secrets of her natural scientist father, finding the twilight where the natural bleeds into the unnatural.
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