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Rose Tremain

Born Rosemary Jane Thomson
(1943-08-02) 2 August 1943 (age 79)
London, England
Occupation Novelist
Language English
Alma mater Sorbonne
University of East Anglia (BA)
Notable awards Orange Prize (2008)
Whitbread Award (1999)
Prix Femina Étranger (1994)
James Tait Black Memorial Prize (1992)
Sunday Express Book of the Year (1989)
Giles Cooper Award (1984)

Dame Rose Tremain DBE FRSL (born 2 August 1943) is an English novelist, short story writer, and former Chancellor of the University of East Anglia.


Rose Tremain was born Rosemary Jane Thomson on 2 August 1943 in London to Viola Mabel Thomson and Keith Nicholas Home Thomson. Her paternal great-grandfather is William Thomson, who was Archbishop of York from 1862 to 1890.

She was educated at Francis Holland School, Crofton Grange School, the Sorbonne (1961–1962) and the University of East Anglia (BA, English Literature). She later went on to teach creative writing at the University of East Anglia from 1988 to 1995, and was appointed Chancellor in 2013.

She married Jon Tremain in 1971 and they had one daughter, Eleanor, born in 1972, who became an actress. The marriage lasted about five years. Her second marriage, to theatre director Jonathan Dudley, in 1982, lasted about nine years; and she has been with Richard Holmes since 1992. She lives in Thorpe St Andrew near Norwich in Norfolk.


Her influences include William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 1967 novel 100 Years of Solitude and the magical realism style.

She is a historical novelist who approaches her subjects "from unexpected angles, concentrating her attention on unglamorous outsiders."

In 2009, she donated the short story The Jester of Astapovo to Oxfam's "Ox-Tales" project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Her story was published in the "Earth" collection.

She became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1983. Already Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), Tremain was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to writing.

Awards and honours

  • 2017 Ribalow Prize for The Gustav Sonata
  • 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, longlist, The Gustav Sonata
  • 2016 Costa Book Awards (novel), shortlist, The Gustav Sonata
  • 2016 National Jewish Book Award for The Gustav Sonata
  • 2013 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, shortlist, Merivel: A Man of His Time
  • 2012 Wellcome Trust Book Prize, shortlist, Merivel: A Man of His Time
  • 2008 Orange Prize, The Road Home
  • 1999 Whitbread Award, Music and Silence
  • 1994 Prix Femina Étranger, Sacred Country
  • 1992 James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Sacred Country
  • 1989 Booker Prize, shortlist, Restoration
  • 1989 Sunday Express Book of the Year, Restoration
  • 1984 Giles Cooper Award, Temporary Shelter (play)
  • 1984 Dylan Thomas Prize
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