Jennifer Johnston

Derry-based Jennifer Johnston is one of Northern Ireland’s most popular novelists

Dublin born Jennifer Johnston has lived for many years in Derry and is one of Northern Ireland’s most popular novelists. Her works include The Captains and the Kings (1972), The Gates (1973), How Many Miles to Babylon? (1974), Shadows on our Skin (1977), The Old Jest (1979), The Railway Station Man (1984), The Illusionist (1995) and The Gingerbread Woman (2000).

Johnston has won many awards and prizes and her novels have been adapted for television in both Britain and Ireland.

Johnston’s fiction focuses on the predicament of the Anglo Irish in the twentieth century. Developing the ‘Big House’ tradition of Irish literary fiction, her works explores class, religion and gender divisions in Irish life. The impact of the first world war and recent upheavals in Ireland’s history is also a central theme. A member of Aosdana, Jennifer Johnston has also written plays for stage and radio.

Further reading:
‘The Big House in the Recent Novel’ by Brian Donnelly, Studies, 64 (Summer 1975); ‘Anglo-Irish Attitudes: The Novels of Jennifer Johnston’ by Seán McMahon, Éire-Ireland, X, 3 (Autumn 1975); ‘The World of Jennifer Johnston: A Look at Three Novels’ by Mark Mortimer, The Crane Bag, 4, 1 (1980); ‘The Masculine World of Jennifer Johnston’ by Shari Benstock, in Twentieth Century-Women Novelists (1982) edited by Thomas F Staley.