In the early 1980s, Maggie Gee received both a hug and a slap: she was named on the 1983 Granta Best of Young British Novelists list and had her sixth novel refused by numerous publishers.

In 2011, Gee published a memoir entitled My Animal Life, a nod to her fascination with biological science and big universal themes such as sex, death and parenthood - the stuff of her fiction too. She describes herself as ‘a modernist, though with more politics and jokes than the average modernist’ and her novels have treated nuclear war, racism, class and capitalism, among other topics. She has, she says, learned that ‘it is no good trying to write to win readers… I still try to please socially, but not in my writing.’