Newnham College, Cambridge, has published in December 2014 an illustrated booklet edited by Bridget Passmore and containing six brief biographies of remarkable women who attended the college, written by more recent students.   

They are Amber Reeves by Margaret Drabble, Amy Levy by Jenn Ashworth, Sarah Lefanu by Marjorie Blandy, Enid Welsford by Elaine Feinstein, Peggy Pollard by Sue Limb and Constance Garnett by Claire Tomalin.

ISBN 978-0-9930715-0-8   

Available from Newnham.

On 7 September 2017 I am publishing a new book, an illustrated memoir called A Life of my Own.     The British publishers are Viking Penguin - ISBN 978-0-241-23995-7.

It will be published by the Penguin Press in the United States.  










The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2014 Winner Announced

Congratulations to Helen Macdonald for winning the prize with H is for Hawk

Click the link below for BBC News article on H is for Hawk:

And congratulations also to the five other short-listed writers:

Common People by Alison Light

The Iceberg by Marion Coutts

Village of Secrets by Caroline Moorehead

Roy Jenkins by John Campbell

The Empire of Necessity by Greg Grandin

Chair of judges Claire Tomalin on the pleasures of reading as work

I’m having a very happy summer, as great boxes of books arrive regularly for me to read - and reading is as necessary to me as fresh air and food. So every day is a pleasure as I immerse myself in another book, guilt free, because for the next few months it is my work.    

I am learning as I read,  history of all kinds, family history, political, social, cultural and religious history. Also literature, science and medicine, economics and politics. I’m learning about people, some laid out warts and all by biographers, others presenting themselves in  memoirs:  triumphs for some, occasional laughs, and  sorrows and tragedies that make chastening reading.  

Thomas Hardy said that real lives and histories are far more surprising and odder  than any fiction, and he was right. I decided when I was a girl that well researched and well told history was almost always more interesting than historical fiction, and I’ve never found reason to change my mind.

A terrific team of my fellow judges is working alongside, and we have a lengthy road ahead as we choose our longlist, shortlist and finally our single winner. I’m looking forward to our discussions, disagreements and shared enthusiasms - we come from different disciplines, and no doubt we’ll find a great deal to argue about. Already I have a small pile of titles I think good enough to win the prize, and I’m sad knowing that not all my favourites can win. Still, I hope that the long- and shortlists will attract enough attention to give all the authors who make it a boost.     They deserve it, because writing is hard work and good writing is precious and needs to be celebrated.

Now back to the books…


Ralph Fiennes plays Charles Dickens in The Invisible Woman film adaptation

A major motion picture based on Claire Tomalin’s multi-award-winning book The Invisible Woman, which tells the story of the life of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens,  has been directed by Ralph Fiennes, who plays Charles Dickens alongside Felicity Jones as Nelly.

The Invisible Woman will soon be released in DVD. 

Before you watch the film, buy the book here.


Official Selection for the 2013 London, New York, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals, the film has already received rapturous advanced reviews:

A revelatory performance by 29-year-old rising star Felicity Jones (“Like Crazy”) is the chief but hardly only virtue of “The Invisible Woman,” a superior piece of grist for the “Masterpiece Theater”/Merchant Ivory mill, so tastefully mounted and brilliantly acted that it wears down even the corset-phobic’s innate resistance to such things.'

Variety -

Period biographical dramas don’t come much better than The Invisible Woman, an exceptionally involving and credible portrayal of the “whispered” relationship Charles Dickens maintained with a much younger woman over the last 13 years of his life.

The Hollywood Reporter -

You can also read reviews from The Guardian and the Telegraph

Samuel Pepys to be published in French

Claire Tomalin is delighted to announce that in February 2014 Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled will be published in French for the first time.

Please see below for a full list of Claire Tomalin’s books in translation:

The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft − Japanese, Spanish 
Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life − French, Spanish, German, Japanese 
The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens − Polish, Italian 
Jane Austen: A Life − Spanish (2 editions), French, Hungarian, Dutch, Japanese, Turkish, Russian 
Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self – French 
Charles Dickens: A Life − Hungarian, Spanish, Japanese

Buy the UK edition of Samuel Pepys here.