Gaynor Arnold’s first love was acting and she helped propel Christopher Hampton’s rise to stage fame when she played the lead in his first play, When Did You Last See My Mother?

Gaynor came to writing late; although she had written a selection of short stories, she was 60 when she started work on her debut novel, Girl in a Blue Dress. Her professional life had been spent in medical social work - mostly with children and families - and she sees writing fiction and social work as complementary professions: ‘We have to be interested in the relationships between people, and we often focus on the negative side of families.’ She confessed to having done ‘little traditional research’ for her story about Charles Dickens’s spurned wife Catherine.

Gaynor Arnold

All nominated books

Girl in a Blue Dress