Jane Harris (born 1961) is a British writer of fiction and screenplays. Her latest novel, GILLESPIE AND I, was published to critical acclaim in the UK in May 2011 by Faber and Faber. Her first novel THE OBSERVATIONS was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2007 and has been published in over 20 territories worldwide.
In France, THE OBSERVATIONS was shortlisted for the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger (2009), and in the USA it won the Book of the Month Club’s First Fiction Prize (2007).
Waterstone’s, the UK bookstore chain, chose Jane as one of its 25 Authors for the Future. In 2007 she was also nominated for the British Book Awards Newcomer of the Year and for the Southbank Show/Times Breakthrough Award. In 2011, Richard and Judy chose The Observations as one of their 100 Books of the Decade. You can read more about Jane's experiences writing The Observations in an article written for Mslexia.
Harris was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and spent her early childhood there before her parents moved to Glasgow, Scotland, in 1965. On leaving school she studied English Literature and Drama at the University of Glasgow, then trained at East 15 Acting School in London. You can read more about Jane's experiences of performing in Once Upon A Life, written for The Observer.
After years of trying different careers, Jane worked abroad, variously as a dishwasher, a waitress, a chambermaid and an English language teacher. She began writing short stories during this period, while confined to bed in Portugal with a bout of flu.
On her return to Glasgow, her short stories began to be published in anthologies of new Scottish literature. She went on to undertake an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, and then completed a PhD at the same university. During the same period, Jane wrote a number of short film scripts. Several of these scripts won awards, including two BAFTA nominations, for "Bait" (1999) and "Going Down" (2000). In 1999 and 2000, Jane was shortlisted for the BBC's Dennis Potter Award.
After UEA came a two-year stint as the Arts Council Writer-in-Residence at HMP Durham (1992-4). Following this, Harris worked as a script and novel reader for film companies and for The Literary Consultancy, and as a script editor. She also taught Creative Writing for many years, principally at the University of East Anglia.
Harris currently lives in East London and is married to the film and TV director Tom Shankland.