About

Kate Summerscale was born in London and lived in Japan and Chile as a child. She was then educated at Parliament Hill school in London, Bedales school in Hampshire and at Oxford and Stanford universities. She worked at various newspapers and magazines until in 2005 she left her job as Literary Editor of the Daily Telegraph to write The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. She has judged several literary prizes, including the Booker Prize, and in 2010 was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She lives in London.
Kate Summerscale’s first book, The Queen of Whale Cay (1997), was inspired by an obituary she wrote for the Daily Telegraph — it won the Somerset Maugham award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread (now Costa) biography prize.
 
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (2008) won the Samuel Johnson prize as well as the British Book Awards for both Popular Non-Fiction and Book of the Year. It was a Richard & Judy Bookclub pick and was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Non-Fiction Gold Dagger in the UK and the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime in the US. Hat Trick productions adapted the story for ITV, and went on to make three fictional dramas about Jack Whicher’s investigations.
 
Kate’s third book, Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace (2012), was a Sunday Times bestseller, and her fourth, The Wicked Boy (2016), won the 2017 Mystery Writers of America Edgar award for Best Fact Crime. Her latest book, The Haunting of Alma Fielding, was published in October 2020 and long listed for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction.

Interviews

 
How to write a book in your lunch hour
Kate talks to Kate Clanchy about shaping a non-fiction narrative
Rathbones Folio Sessions 2020 
A mystery of motive
‘I just became very intrigued by why they had done it.’ Kate talks to Nick Galvin about the inspiration for The Wicked Boy
Sydney Morning Herald, 28 May 2016
 
Kill your mother, then go to the cricket
Kate talks to Ellen Fanning about the life of Robert Coombes
Life Matters, ABC Radio, 25 May 2016
Now and then
‘I discovered that there was someone living who had known and cared for Robert Coombes, and who seemed not to have known about the murder he had committed as a boy.’
Q&A for Publishers Weekly, 13 May 2016

The voyeurism of true crime
‘It’s a genre that has a kind of sleazy aspect to it. But I rather enjoy that. It’s very live territory, the morals of it are quite insistent.’ Kate talks to Horatia Harrod
Financial Times, 30 April 2016
The haunting tale of a Victorian child murderer
Audio: Kate talks to Jeffrey Toobin about The Wicked Boy
The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC, 22 July 2016
Matricide in 1895
Audio: Erik Rivenes interviews Kate about her latest book
Most Notorious, 18 August 2016
 
Fixing on a subject 
‘It was so mysterious, so ambiguous and strange a story that I really wanted to find out if I could solve it.’ Kate talks to Elizabeth Kuravilla
Mint, 25 April 2015
 
A life in writing

I'm a journalist playing historian, and then I try to convert what I’ve found into something like a novel.’ Kate talks to Lisa Allardice

The Guardian, 4 May 2012

 

The lure of the Victorians 
Kate explains to Daneet Steffens what draws her back to the 19th century

The Independent, 12 May 2012

 

A very scandalous diary
‘Summerscale is “drawn in” to her stories by single powerful scenes; there was something “hyperreal” about this particular episode in the Robinsons’ narrative, she says: “It was like it had been lifted from a novel, and I wanted to find the rest of that novel.”’ Kate talks to Lucy Scholes

The Daily Beast, 24 June 2012

 

Desire as sickness
‘Isabella Robinson seemed an astonishingly modern woman — frank about her sexual desires, shameless about pursuing them’

Q&A for Metro, 8 May 2012

 

The dangerous detective
‘Detect comes from Latin, to ‘‘unroof’’ — literally, to lift the roof off the house and look around. That was the power and threat of the detective.’ Kate talks to Ed Caesar 

The Sunday Times, 20 July 2008 (£)

 

Perfect crimes
‘There is still a hope that a detective can go into a scene of chaos and find the story that makes it mean something. He enables us to indulge our fascination with horrible things without getting too tarnished.’ Kate talks to Sarah Crompton

The Telegraph, 21 July 2008

 

The suspicions of Kate Summerscale
Audio: At the Sydney Writers Festival, the Book Show’s Sarah L'Estrange asks Kate Summerscale why she shaped her book like a murder mystery

ABC Australia, 10 June 2009

Meet Mrs Robinson

Audio: Kate Summerscale introduces Mrs Robinson's Disgrace

Telegraph
 

Official website © Kate Summerscale 2017. Background image: 1882 Reynolds map of London / Wikimedia Commons