Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester, Great Britain, in 1959. She grew up in nearby Accrington, where she was the adopted daughter of a working-class couple, who belonged to the Whitsun movement and raised her with missionary zeal. When she was in school, Winterson already began to distance herself from her parents’ mindset. When the result of her first lesbian relationship was that she was excluded from the community, she left home and attended St. Catherine‘s College in Oxford, which she financed doing odd jobs. In 1981 she concluded her English studies. Today Winterson lives in London and writes for “The Guardian” and “The Times”, among other newspapers.
In her debut novel of 1985 “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit,” Winterson in a partially ironical and satirical way tells the story of her childhood and youth. The novel received the renowned Whitbread Award and was filmed as a television series by the BBC in 1990. The novel “Oranges” is the first in what became a loose cycle of successful and in part prizewinning stories on love and other passions. In 1992 she became known internationally with her novel “Written on the Body,” which has been translated into almost twenty languages. Winterson has also written short stories, essays, and screenplays, as well as the children’s books “The King of Capri” (2001) and “Tanglewreck” (2006).
A simple and unusually light language characterizes Winterson’s work, which despite an occasionally almost careless undertone is able to communicate a wealth of feelings. With her humorous and witty stories that take great pleasure in experimentation and are seldom stopped by the limits of time and space, the author is reminiscent of Virginia Woolf. And like Woolf, whose works she edited anew together with her partner Margaret Reynolds, Winterson also breaks with traditional gender roles – not lastly through the emphasis she places on homoerotic relationships.
In “The Powerbook” with which Winterson completed her prose cycle in 2000, cyberspace has become the playground for her literary fantasy. In the context of a modern love triangle, she explores the freedoms and dangers in a virtual cosmos.
© international literature festival berlin