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Carol Birch

Carol Birch

Carol Birch (born 1951) is an English novelist, lecturer and book critic. She also teaches creative writing.


Birch was born in Manchester. Her parents had met in a wartime armaments factory. Her father, a metallurgist, also played trombone in a Manchester jazz band known as The Saints. She took English and American Studies at Keele University.[1] After a period in the Waterloo area of London (which would be the setting for her first novel), she moved to County Cork, Ireland, with her first husband, an artist, taking his name Birch and turning to writing, but she returned to London, where the marriage ended.[2]

Birch and her second husband, Martin Butler, moved back to the North West in 1989.[3] She currently lives with her family in Lancaster,[4] where her husband teaches at Lancaster and Morecambe College.[5]


The author of twelve novels, Birch won the 1988 David Higham Award for the Best First Novel of the Year for Life in the Palace, and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize with The Fog Line in 1991;[4][6] Her novel Turn Again Home was on the long list for the 2003 Man Booker Prize.[4] Her novel Jamrach's Menagerie was long-listed for the Orange Prize 2011,[7] and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011,[8] and an extract from it appeared in The New York Times.[9]

In 2014 Birch was awarded an honorary degree of D.Litt. by Lancaster University.[10]


Among the working-class writers to whom Birch acknowledges a debt are the fellow Lancastrians Shelagh Delaney and Louis Golding, and the Welshman Howard Spring.[4] Several of her novels have been translated into German,[11] and Jamrach's Menagerie into Romanian.[12] Birch also teaches creative writing and contributes reviews to a number of newspapers.[13]


  • Life in the Palace (1988)
  • The Fog Line (1989)
  • The Unmaking (1992)
  • Songs of the West (1994)
  • Little Sister (1998)
  • Come Back, Paddy Riley (1999)
  • Turn Again Home (2003)
  • In a Certain Light (2004)
  • The Naming of Eliza Quinn (2005)
  • Scapegallows (2007): A novel based on the life of Margaret Catchpole
  • Jamrach's Menagerie (2011)
  • Orphans of the Carnival (2016)


  1. "Early Students Publications – Keele University". Archived from the original on 9 November 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  2. 'The Guardian, December 2016
  3. Biographical note on author's website. Retrieved 18 December 2014. Archived 19 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  4. "Lucky seven for our Carol?". The Lancaster Guardian. 4 September 2003. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  5. Lancashire Life, December 2011. Retrieve 19 December 2014.
  6. "Carol Birch" (PDF). Aesthetica. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 July 2008. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
  7. "Retrieved 22 March 2011". Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  8. Retrieved 26 July 2011. Archived 18 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  9. The New York Times, 29 July 2011. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  10. "Honorary degree for novelist Carol Birch". Lancaster University. 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  11. Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin 2012 Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  12. Review in Romanian Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  13. King's Lynn Literary Festivals 2012 Retrieved 18 December 2014.
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