Jane Borodale is a fiction writer with a particular interest in the history of ordinary people, often in the context of environment or landscape. Her first novel The Book of Fires (HarperCollins) is about eighteenth-century illegitimacy and the development of colour in early fireworks. It was shortlisted for the Orange award for new writers, published by Penguin in the US and translated into several languages. Her second novel The Knot (Fourth Estate) – set on the Somerset Levels – draws on the life of forgotten sixteenth-century botanist Henry Lyte, who translated an influential Flemish herbal into English.
She was Leverhulme writer in residence at the Weald and Downland Museum in Sussex, where she wrote The Visitor, a group of experimental short stories about four vernacular houses at the museum, drawn from research, observation and fieldwork. Other projects include twenty months as writer in residence at the Dartington Hall Trust in Devon; site-specific narrative for the Foundling Museum in London, and voice installation The Concentrated House, written as a sensory exploration of objects relating to Dorothy Wordsworth and exhibited at the Wordsworth Trust in Cumbria. For four years she held the tenure of the Royal Society of Literature’s writers’ cottage in Somerset.
Jane gives creative writing workshops and has spoken at many literature festivals, schools and book groups. She is currently a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London – for which she has an AHRC studentship award – researching the physical experience of the early nineteenth-century Mendip rural poor, which includes hunger, bad weather, sunsets and riot.