Joanna Briscoe was born in London but grew up in various villages in the West Country, attending six different schools. When she was ten, her family settled on Dartmoor, where she started to write. She had completed two children’s novels and one adult novel and collected dozens of publishers’ rejection letters in a scrapbook by the time she left school.
Rebelling against an excessively rural childhood, she went to University College London to read English, and then lived in Bloomsbury, central London, for most of her adult life. On graduating, she got a job writing and editing on Girl About Town magazine, and went freelance after a year.
She continued to write fiction in the evenings while earning money as a freelance journalist, largely for the Guardian and Elle. She has since written regular features, reviews and columns for publications including the Guardian, Independent, Observer, Sunday Times, Times, Sunday Telegraph, Evening Standard, ES Magazine, Express, FT, Mail on Sunday, New Statesman and Vogue.
She writes a guest column, At The Sharp End, for the Independent, and is currently on contract with the Guardian as a literary critic for the Review section. She also broadcasts on Radio 4, most frequently on Woman’s Hour.
She published short stories in several anthologies, including Revenge (Virago) and Wild Ways (Sceptre). Her first novel, Mothers and Other Lovers, was published in 1994 and won a Betty Trask Award. She then spent a lot of time in New York researching her second novel, Skin, which was about the beauty industry and the mutilation of women’s bodies. She spent some time as a fellow of the MacDowell Colony, an artists’ retreat in New Hampshire, finishing the novel, which was a runner up for the Encore Award, and lived briefly in Paris, writing.
She now lives with her partner and children in north London, where she continues to write at home. Sleep With Me, published by Bloomsbury in 2005 and in nine other countries, including the US, was widely reviewed and adapted for television by Andrew Davies for ITV Drama. “It’s a beautifully written and emotionally candid novel which also happens to be a page-turner,” wrote Jonathan Coe in the Guardian.