Susan Hill Biography

Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Susan Elizabeth Hill is a critically acclaimed English novelist and short-story writer whose production first reached its peak in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Her simply drawn novels examine the lives of small, sometimes eccentric people, who look for life and warmth in their often icy and sterile lives.

Born in 1942 to R. H. and Doris Hill in Scarborough, a working-class town on the east coast of England, Hill attended grammar school in Scarborough and Coventry and graduated with honors in English from King’s College, University of London, in 1963. Following her graduation, Hill reviewed books for the Coventry Evening Telegraph until 1969, when she became a full-time writer, reviewer, and broadcaster. In 1975, she married the Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells. They had a daughter and lived in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, and Oxfordshire.

Between 1961 and 1975, Hill published eight novels, three books of short stories, and one collection of radio plays. Her work was recognized by her receiving the Somerset Maugham Award (1971), the Whitbread Literary Award (1972), and the Rhys Memorial Prize (1972). In the late 1970’s, she decided that she would write no more novels. She considered the novel on which she was working inferior to her previous work, and she was enjoying marriage and motherhood. She considered giving up writing altogether for a while but remained active as a broadcaster and critic. Eventually, she returned to writing with a book exploring life in the Oxfordshire countryside and an autobiographical work entitled Family. In 1983, she returned to fiction with a thriller, The Woman in Black. She also focused on writing children’s books and book reviews. Hill returned to adult novels in the 1990’s with Air and Angels, a romance; The Mist in the Mirror, a gothic mystery; Mrs. de Winter, a sequel to Daphne du Maurier’s best-seller Rebecca (1938); and The Service of Clouds.

Hill’s novels are deceptively simple; they examine...

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Susan Hill Bibliography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Campbell, Ann Gibaldi. “Susan Hill.” In British Short-Fiction Writers, 1945-1980, edited by Dean Baldwin. Vol. 139 in Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale Group, 1994. An examination of Hill’s life and short fiction.

Cole, Catherine Wells. “Susan Hill.” In British Novelists Since 1960, edited by Jay L. Halio and Graham Martin. Vol. 14 in Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale Group, 1983. Covers Hill’s career up to In the Springtime of the Year.

Hill, Susan. “Novel and Unwelcome Coincidences.” Spectator, January 18, 1992. Provides insight into the sources of Hill’s works.

Jackson, Rosemary. “Cold Enclosures: The Fiction of Susan Hill.” In Twentieth-Century Women Novelists, edited by Thomas F. Staley. Totowa, N.J.: Barnes & Noble Books, 1982. An extensive critical study.

Muir, Kenneth. “Susan Hill’s Fiction.” In The Uses of Fiction: Essays on the Modern Novel in Honour of Arnold Kettle, edited by Douglas Jefferson and Graham Martin. Milton Keynes, England: The Open University Press, 1982. Muir assesses the achievement of Hill’s fiction up to her hiatus from writing. Discusses her narrative method, characterization, and themes.

Schubert, Maria. “Susan Hill Focusing on Outsiders and Losers.” In English Language and Literature: Positions and Dispositions, edited by James Hogg, Karl Hubmayer, and Dorothea Steiner. Salzburg: University of Salzburg Press, 1990. Schubert discusses the ways in which Hill’s marginalized, often female characters illuminate the main themes of her fiction, especially in Gentleman and Ladies, A Change for the Better, and I’m the King of the Castle.