Emma Donoghue

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Emma Donoghue
Emma Donoghue in Toronto on 18 February 2015
Emma Donoghue in Toronto on 18 February 2015
Born (1969-10-24) 24 October 1969 (age 49)
Dublin, Ireland
Occupation novelist, short story writer, playwright, literary historian
Nationality Irish
Partner Christine Roulston
Children 2

Emma Donoghue (born 24 October 1969) is an Irish-Canadian playwright, literary historian, novelist, and screenwriter. Her 2010 novel Room was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize[2] and an international best-seller. Donoghue's 1995 novel Hood won the Stonewall Book Award.[3] and Slammerkin (2000) won the Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction.[4] Room was adapted into a film of the same name, for which Donoghue wrote the screenplay which was subsequently nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.


Donoghue was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1969.[5] The youngest of eight children, she is the daughter of Frances (née Rutledge) and academic and literary critic Denis Donoghue.[1][5][6] She has a first-class honours Bachelor of Arts degree from University College Dublin (in English and French) and a PhD in English from Girton College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge she lived in a women's co-op, an experience which inspired her short story The Welcome.[7] Her thesis was on friendship between men and women in 18th century fiction.[8]

At Cambridge, she met her future life partner Christine Roulston, a Canadian who is now professor of French and Women's Studies at the University of Western Ontario. They moved permanently to Canada in 1998 and Donoghue became a Canadian citizen in 2004.[1] She lives in London, Ontario with Roulston and their two children.[5][9]


Donoghue reading at the Eden Mills Writers' Festival in 2017

Donoghue's first novel was 1994's Stir Fry, a contemporary coming of age novel about a young Irish woman discovering her sexuality.[10] It was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in 1994.[7] This was followed in 1995 by Hood, another contemporary story, this time about an Irish woman coming to terms with the death of her girlfriend.[10] Hood won the 1997 American Library Association's Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Book Award for Literature (now known as the Stonewall Book Award for Literature).[7]

Slammerkin (2000) is a historical novel set in London and Wales. Inspired by an 18th-century newspaper story about a young servant who killed her employer and was executed, the protagonist is a prostitute who longs for fine clothes.[7][11] It was a finalist in the 2001 Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Fiction and was awarded the 2002 Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction (despite a lack of lesbian content).[7][12][13] Her 2007 novel, Landing, portrays a long-distance relationship between a Canadian curator and an Irish flight attendant.[14]

The Sealed Letter (2008), another work of historical fiction, is based on the Codrington Affair, a scandalous divorce case that gripped Britain in 1864. The protagonist is Emily Faithfull.[15] The Sealed Letter was longlisted for the Giller Prize,[16] and was joint winner, with Chandra Mayor's All the Pretty Girls, of the 2009 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction.[17]

On 27 July 2010, Donoghue's novel Room was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and on 7 September 2010 it made the shortlist.[2] On 2 November 2010, it was announced that Room had been awarded the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.[18] Room was also shortlisted for the 2010 Governor General's Awards in Canada,[19] and was the winner of the Irish Book Award 2010. It was short-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2011,[20] but lost out to Tea Obreht. She later wrote the screenplay for a film version of the book, Room (2015), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe and Bafta Award,[21] and in 2017 adapted it into a play performed at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.[22]

Her novel Frog Music, a historical fiction based on the true story of a murdered 19th century cross-dressing frog catcher, was published in 2014.

Her novel The Wonder, published in 2016, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.[23]



  • Stir Fry (1994)
  • Hood (1995)
  • Slammerkin (2000)
  • Life Mask (2004)
  • Landing (2007)
  • The Sealed Letter (2008)
  • Room (2010)
  • Frog Music (2014)
  • The Wonder (2016)
  • The Lotterys series:
    1. The Lotterys Plus One (2017)
    2. The Lotterys More or Less (2018)

Short stories[edit]

Short story collections[edit]

  • Kissing the Witch (1997)
  • The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (2002)
  • Touchy Subjects (2006)
  • Three and a Half Deaths (2011)
  • Astray (2012)

Drama (stage)[edit]

  • I Know My Own Heart (1993) (published 2001)
  • Ladies and Gentlemen (1996) (published 1998)
  • Don't Die Wondering (2005)
  • Kissing the Witch (2000)
  • The Talk of the Town (2012)
  • Emma Donoghue: Selected Plays (published 2015)
  • Room (2017) (an adaption of her 2010 novel)

Drama (radio)[edit]

  • Trespasses (1996)
  • Don't Die Wondering (2000)
  • Exes (2001)
  • Humans and Other Animals (2003)
  • Mix (2003)


  • Pluck (2001)
  • Room (2015)

Literary history[edit]

  • Passions Between Women: British Lesbian Culture 1668–1801 (1993)
  • We Are Michael Field (1998)
  • Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature (2010)

Works edited[edit]

  • What Sappho Would Have Said (1997)
  • The Mammoth Book Of Lesbian Short Stories (1999)

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Stoffman, Judy (13 January 2007). "Writer has a deft touch with sexual identities". Toronto Star. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  2. ^ a b "News | The Man Booker Prizes". Themanbookerprize.com. Archived from the original on 2 February 2016. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Stonewall Book Awards List". American Library Association.
  4. ^ "Awards". publishingtriangle.org. Publishing Triangle. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  5. ^ a b c "Emma Donoghue — Bio". Official site. Archived from the original on 24 March 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2008.
  6. ^ "A to Z of Emma Donoghue, author". Picador.com. 20 July 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Emma Donoghue — Writings". emmadonoghue.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  8. ^ Richards, Linda (November 2000). "Interview". January Magazine. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  9. ^ McEvoy, Marc. "Interview: Emma Donoghue".
  10. ^ a b Keehnen, Owen (1994). "Future Perfect: Talking With Irish Lesbian Author Emma Donoghue". glbtq.com. Archived from the original on 7 November 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  11. ^ Hagestadt, Emma; Hirst, Christopher (8 May 2001). "Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue". The Independent. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  12. ^ Gonzalez, Alexander G. (2006). Irish women writers: an A-to-Z guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 98–101. ISBN 0-313-32883-8.
  13. ^ O'Neill, Heather Aimee (12 January 2008). "Interview With Emma Donoghue". AfterEllen.com. Archived from the original on 15 May 2009. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  14. ^ Brownrigg, Sylvia (22 July 2007). "In-Flight Moves". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 October 2009.
  15. ^ Donoghue, Emma. "The Sealed Letter: Author's Note". Picador. Picador. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  16. ^ "Past Winners". Scotiabank Giller Prize.
  17. ^ Cerna, Antonio Gonzalez (18 February 2010). "21st Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary.
  18. ^ "The Writers' Trust of Canada - Prize History". Writerstrust.com. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  19. ^ "Emma Donoghue, Kathleen Winter make GG short list". The Globe and Mail, 13 October 2010.
  20. ^ Brown, Mark (8 June 2011). "Orange prize 2011 goes to Téa Obreht". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 September 2016. Her victory meant defeat for Emma Donoghue – bookies' favourite for the bestselling Room
  21. ^ "Room - Awards - IMDb". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  22. ^ "Abbey Theatre - Whats on - Room". www.abbeytheatre.com. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  23. ^ "The Scotiabank Giller Prize Presents Its 2016 Shortlist - Scotiabank Giller Prize". scotiabankgillerprize.ca. Retrieved 23 October 2018.

External links[edit]