Katharine McMahon



Katharine McMahon is the author of ten novels including the international bestseller The Rose of Sebastopol (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2008), which was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. Her latest novel, The Hour of Separation, was published in June 2018, and is the story of resistance and intense family relationships across two World Wars. Katharine specialises in fiction set in the past, in which women are drawn from the shadows. The Alchemist’s Daughter (2005), based on the life of Voltaire’s mistress Emilie du Châtelet, was a Waterstones’ bestseller, and she has written two novels, The Crimson Rooms and The Woman in the Picture, about a pioneering woman lawyer, Evelyn Gifford.

Katharine wrote a Guardian ebook on historical fiction. She has contributed to Writing Historical Fiction (Bloomsbury, 2014) and taught the Guardian masterclass on historical fiction. She contributed to the RLF’s publication on the state of writing in British universities, Writing Matters, and wrote a report on student writing in universities: What’s going on with Students’ Writing? She has written lyrics performed by Janie Dee and the lyrics and book for a musical for teenagers, Girls’ World.

Katharine McMahon has served on the Sentencing Council for England and Wales, and was a Judicial Appointments commissioner. She has taught for the Arvon Foundation and run national training courses for magistrates. She works part time as Education Projects Manager for the Royal Literary Fund. Her new novel is set in Ireland.

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Katharine McMahon
Image credit: Barbara Luckhurst

Katharine McMahon



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  • University College London, 2008–2009
  • University of Hertfordshire, 2001–2003