Diane Setterfield is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Thirteenth Tale, and a former academic, specializing in twentieth-century French literature, particularly the works of Andre Gide. She lives in Yorkshire, England.
Diane Setterfield became a literary cause célèbre when the manuscript of her first novel, a haunting gothic mystery called The Thirteenth Tale, inspired a vigorous bidding war among publishers on both sides of the pond. A British academic with a specialty in French literature, Setterfield had taught in various colleges in England and France before quitting her job to pursue a writing career -- although, at the time, she didn't even know what she wanted to write about!
To ease her transition into the world of fiction, Setterfield steeped herself in the English classics she had enjoyed as a youth and enrolled in a writer's course on the finer points of getting published. There she caught the attention of novelist Jim Crace, who recognized her potential and took her under his wing. In a 2006 interview with The Guardian, Crace explained, "[Diane] had three things going for her. First, she was talented. Second, she was determined. Third, she had the right level of ego -- enough to make her ambitious but not so much as to stop her listening. When I heard her novel was getting very well received, I was not a bit surprised."
Five years in the making, The Thirteenth Tale tells the story of an elderly, reclusive novelist who reveals the secrets of her extraordinary life to a young, bookish biographer with secrets of her own. Written in the style of suspenseful romantic epics like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Rebecca, the novel is shot through with classic gothic elements -- ghosts, a governess, stolen babies, and windswept moors, just to mention a few.
Upon its publication in 2006, the novel soared to the top of the bestseller lists, boosted by the enthusiastic recommendations of book lovers everywhere. The Washington Post summed up the novel's appeal succinctly in the first sentence of its review: "If you are a Reader with a capital R, as is the narrator of Diane Setterfield's debut novel, the pages of The Thirteenth Tale will remind you of what you know and love: the world of books."
In 2006, The Thirteenth Tale became the inaugural selection of the Barnes & Noble Recommends program.
Good To Know
"Jobs I had before I began writing, in chronological order: Chambermaid, Shop Assistant (lightbulbs and batteries), Shop Assistant (newspapers and greetings cards), Bakery Assistant (I put the jam into doughnuts. I hate doughnuts.), Assistant in an old people's home, Library Assistant, English Language Tutor, Translator, French Language Tutor, University Lecturer, French Language Tutor again. Writing suits me better than any other job I have had."
"I have kept a reading diary since I was 18. I am jealous of my friend who has kept hers since she was ten."
"I love to read, obviously. Cooking and eating are joys (as I write this the sun is shining, and I am wondering whether the time is right to buy an ice-cream maker). I am always happy up a ladder with a paintbrush in my hand. And I wish I had more time to spend in the garden -- not least because I get good ideas for writing when I'm out there. I like spending time with my friends. (I did warn you. Writers are not special people. When they're not writing they do exactly the same as everyone else.)