Jennifer Johnston


Born in Dublin in 1930, she studied at Trinity College, Dublin. Jennifer Johnston’s first published novel was The Captains and the Kings (1972). Since then, she has published many highly acclaimed novels, including Shadows on our Skin (1977), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and The Old Jest (1979), set in the War of Independence which won the Whitbread Award. The Old Jest was later filmed as The Dawning, starring Anthony Hopkins.

Other novels include: How Many Miles to Babylon? (1974), set in World War I, and later adapted for stage; The Invisible Worm (1991), dealing with the subject of sexual abuse, and shortlisted for the Daily Express Best Book of the Year Award; The Gingerbread Woman (2000), about a widower who has lost his wife and child to terrorists; This Is Not a Novel (2002); Grace and Truth (2005); and recently, Foolish Mortals (2007).

Jennifer Johnston’s plays have included The Nightingale and Not the Lark (1980), and O Ananias, Azarias and Misael (first published in Best Radio Plays of 1989, 1990).

She lives in County Derry, is a member of Aosdána and her novels have been published in many countries.

Her novels have been translated into several languages. She has also received the Robert Pitman Award and the Yorkshire Post Award.

The Captains and the Kings Hamilton, 1972
The Gates Hamilton, 1973
How Many Miles to Babylon? Hamilton, 1974
Shadows on our Skin Hamilton, 1977
The Old Jest Hamilton, 1979
The Nightingale and Not the Lark (play) S. French, 1980
The Christmas Tree Hamilton, 1981
Best Radio Plays of 1989 (Giles Cooper Award Winners Series; includes ‘O Ananias, Azarias and Misael’) Methuen/BBC, 1990
The Railway Station Man Hamish Hamilton, 1984
Fool’s Sanctuary Hamish Hamilton, 1987
The Invisible Worm Sinclair-Stevenson, 1991
The Illusionist Sinclair-Stevenson, 1995
Three Monologues (Contents: ‘Twinkletoes’; ‘Mustn’t Forget High Noon’; ‘Christine’) Lagan Press, 1995
The Desert Lullaby: A Play in Two Acts Lagan Press, 1996
Two Moons Review, 1998
The Essential Jennifer Johnston (Contents: ‘The Captains and the Kings’; ‘The Railway Station Man’; ‘Fool’s Sanctuary’) Review, 1999
The Gingerbread Woman Review, 2000
This is not a Novel Review, 2002
Selected Short Plays (Contents: ‘Moonlight and Music’; Mustn’t Forget High Noon’; ‘O Ananias, Azarias and Misael’; ‘The Nightingale and Not the Lark’) New Island, 2003
Grace and Truth Review, 2005
Foolish Mortals Review, 2007
Truth or Fiction Review, 2009
Shadowstory, 2011
Fathers and Son, 2012
A Sixpenny Song, 2013

1972 Evening Standard Award for Best First Novel The Captains and the Kings
1972 Yorkshire Post Book Award (Best First Work) The Captains and the Kings
1977 Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist) Shadows on our Skin
1979 Whitbread Novel Award The Old Jest
1989 Giles Cooper Award (radio play) O Ananias, Azarias and Misael
1992 Daily Express Best Book of the Year Award (shortlist) The Invisible Worm