Alicia Foster trained as an art historian before becoming a novelist. Her first novel Warpaint (Penguin, Figtree, 2013) tells the story of four women artists employed by the British government in 1942–3; some are making paintings to inspire the bulldog spirit while one creates black propaganda — mendacious, cruel, and obscene — to undermine the enemy. Previous publications include a monograph drawing on her doctoral research Gwen John (Tate/Princeton, 1999), and the first complete survey of women represented in Tate collections Tate Women Artists (Tate, 2004). Her next novel is set in the early 1920s in Yorkshire and will tell the story of a violent collision between the forces of modernity and reaction.
Foster grew up in Yorkshire in the 1970s and early 1980s: a land without supermarkets, mobile phones, or the internet; a place of uncivilised towns and unnatural countryside, of coal mines, power stations and industrial farms. She escaped across the Pennines to Manchester, drawn by the bright lights and crumbling towers, Victorian gothic and 1960s, where she studied painting and how to live a bohemian life, and then for a PhD in art history.
She has spent a number of years as a lecturer, teaching fine art students about art history and the practice of writing. These days she lives by the sea in Kent.