Born in Yorkshire in 1952, Helen Dunmore studied English at York University and taught in Finland for two years before publishing her first book. She has worked as a writer, reader, performer and eacher of Poetry and Creative Writing, tutoring residential writing courses for the Arvon Foundation and taking part in the Poetry Society's Writer in Schools scheme. She has also taught at the University of Glamorgan, the University of Bristol's Continuing Education Department and for the Open College of the Arts. She also reviews for The Times and The Observer, contributes to arts programmes on BBC Radio and has been a judge for the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Whitbread Book of the Year award.
Her poetry collections include The Apple Fall (1983), The Sea Skater (1986), which won the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award in 1987, The Raw Garden (1988) and Short Days, Long Nights: New and Selected Poems (1991). Her novels include Zennor in Darkness (1993), winner of the McKitterick Prize, a fictional account of
D. H. Lawrence's life in Cornwall during the First World War; the acclaimed A Spell of Winter (1995), about a brother and sister brought up by their grandfather in his decaying house in the country, winner of the first Orange Prize for Fiction; Talking to the Dead (1996), a tale of two sisters locked in an intense, obsessive relationship; Your Blue-Eyed Boy (1998), the story of a judge's fight to take control of both her professional and personal lives; and With Your Crooked Heart (1999), a story of two brothers, set in contemporary London. She is also the author of two collections of short stories, Love of Fat Men (1997) and Ice Cream (2000).
She has written a number of books for children, including Secrets (1994), which won the Signal Poetry Award, and the novels Brother, Brother, Sister, Sister (1999) and The Zillah Rebellion (2001).
Her recent novel for adults, The Siege (2001), shortlisted for both the Whitbread Novel Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction, is set during the siege of Leningrad in 1941. Mourning Ruby (2003), is a story about memory, love and history.
Helen Dunmore is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her latest book is House of Orphans (2006), a historical novel set in Finland.