A career in literature seemed pre-ordained from the moment Lorna Sage was named after the title character of R. D. Blackmore's Lorna Doone. As with that novel, Sage’s life was full of incident.

Sage recounted her story in her celebrated memoir Bad Blood, which told how she became pregnant at 16 before later emerging with a first class degree from Durham University. She then embarked on an academic career, spent entirely at the ground-breaking University of East Anglia, and became known for her championing of women writers, a specialism recognised when she was asked to edit The Cambridge Guide to Women’s Writing in English in 1999. Sage died, at just 57, from emphysema, only a week after winning the Whitbread Prize for Biography.