Jackie Kay, 2015
|Born||9 November 1961|
|Alma mater||University of Stirling|
|Occupation||Professor of creative writing at Newcastle University; |
|Known for||Poet and novelist|
Jackie Kay was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1961, to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father. She was adopted as a baby by a white Scottish couple, Helen and John Kay, and grew up in Bishopbriggs, a suburb of Glasgow. They adopted Jackie in 1961, having already adopted her brother, Maxwell, about two years earlier. Jackie and Maxwell also have siblings who were brought up by their biological parents.
Her adoptive father worked for the Communist Party full-time and stood for Member of Parliament, and her adoptive mother was the Scottish secretary of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In August 2007, Jackie Kay was the subject of the fourth episode of the BBC Radio 4 series The House I Grew Up In, in which she talked about her childhood.
Initially harbouring ambitions to be an actress, she decided to concentrate on writing after Alasdair Gray, a Scottish artist and writer, read her poetry and told her that writing was what she should be doing. She studied English at the University of Stirling and her first book of poetry, the partially autobiographical The Adoption Papers, was published in 1991 and won the Saltire Society Scottish First Book Award. This is a multiply voiced collection of poetry that deals with identity, race, nationality, gender, and sexuality from the perspectives of three women: an adopted biracial child, her adoptive mother, and her biological mother. Her other awards include the 1994 Somerset Maugham Award for Other Lovers, and the Guardian Fiction Prize for Trumpet, inspired by the life of American jazz musician Billy Tipton, born Dorothy Tipton, who lived as a man for the last fifty years of his life.
Kay writes extensively for stage (in 1988 her play Twice Over was the first by a Black writer to be produced by Gay Sweatshop Theatre Group), screen and for children. Her drama The Lamplighter is an exploration of the Atlantic slave trade. It was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in March 2007 and published in poem form in 2008.
In 2010 she published Red Dust Road, an account of her search for her biological parents, who had met each other when her father was a student at Aberdeen University and her mother was a nurse. The book has been adapted for the stage by Tanika Gupta and will receive its world premiere in August 2019 at the Edinburgh International Festival in a production by National Theatre of Scotland and HOME.
Jackie Kay was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) on 17 June 2006. She is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and Cultural Fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University. Kay lives in Manchester. She took part in the Bush Theatre's 2011 project Sixty-Six Books, with a piece based on a book of the King James Bible. In October 2014, it was announced that she had been appointed as the Chancellor of the University of Salford, and that she would be the university's "Writer in Residence" from 1 January 2015.
Kay is openly lesbian. In her twenties she gave birth to a son, Matthew (whose father is the writer Fred D'Aguiar) and later she had a 15-year relationship with poet Carol Ann Duffy. During this relationship, Duffy gave birth to a daughter, Ella, whose biological father is fellow poet Peter Benson.
Awards and honours
- 2016: The Scots Makar
- 2016: Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
- 2011: Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book of the Year Award, Red Dust Road
- 2011: PEN/Ackerley Prize (shortlist), Red Dust Road
- 2011: Costa Book Awards (shortlist), Fiere
- 2011: Scottish Book of the Year (shortlist), Fiere
- 2009: Scottish Book of the Year (shortlist), The Lamplighter
- 2007: British Book Awards deciBel Writer of the Year
- 2003: Cholmondeley Award
- 2000: International Dublin Literary Award (shortlist), Trumpet
- 1998: Guardian Fiction Prize, Trumpet
- 1994: Somerset Maugham Award, Other Lovers
- 1992: Scottish First Book of the Year, The Adoption Papers
- 1991: Eric Gregory Award
- The Adoption Papers, Bloodaxe Books, 1991, ISBN 9781852241568 (poetry)
- Other Lovers, Bloodaxe Books, 1993, ISBN 9781852242534 (poetry)
- Off Colour, Bloodaxe Books, 1998, ISBN 9781852244200 (poetry)
- Trumpet (fiction – 1998); Random House Digital, Inc., 2011, ISBN 9780307560810
- The Frog who dreamed she was an Opera Singer, Bloomsbury Children's Books, 1998, ISBN 9780747538660
- Two's Company, Puffin Books, 1994, ISBN 9780140369526
- Why Don't You Stop Talking (fiction – 2002); Pan Macmillan, 2012, ISBN 9781447206729
- Strawgirl, Macmillan Children's, 2002, ISBN 9780330480635
- Life Mask, Bloodaxe Books, 2005, ISBN 9781852246914 (poetry)
- Wish I Was Here (fiction – 2006); Pan Macmillan, 2012, ISBN 9781447206736
- Darling: New & Selected Poems, Bloodaxe Books, 2007, ISBN 9781852247775 (poetry)
- The Lamplighter, Bloodaxe Books, 2008, ISBN 9781852248048 (poetry/radio play)
- Red Cherry Red, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2007, ISBN 9780747589792
- Maw Broon Monologues (2009) (shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry)
- Red Dust Road: An Autobiographical Journey. Atlas and Company. 2011. ISBN 9781935633358. (memoir)
- Fiere, Pan Macmillan, 2011, ISBN 9781447206576 (poetry)
- Reality, Reality, Pan Macmillan, 2012, ISBN 9781447204404
- The Empathetic Store, Mariscat Press, 2015, ISBN 9780946588794 (poetry)
Some other poetry used in GCSE Edexcel Syllabus
- Brendon Gallacher
- Twice Through the Heart – opera with libretto by Kay.
- "The House I Grew Up In, featuring Jackie Kay". The House I Grew Up In. 27 August 2007. BBC Radio 4.
- Jackie Kay, "My old man: a voyage around our fathers", The Observer, 15 June 2008.
- "Gay Sweatshop Theatre Company", Unfinished Histories – Recording the History of Alternative Theatre.
- "BBC Radio 3". Bbc.co.uk. 25 March 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- Bloodaxe Books, 2008; ISBN 978-1-85224-804-8
- "Prof. Jackie Kay: Professor of Creative Writing". Newcastle University.
- "Jackie Kay – Hadassah in response to Esther" Archived 14 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Sixty-Six Books, Bush Theatre.
- "Appointment of new Chancellor", University of Salford, Greater Manchester, 17 October 2014.
- ScottishGovernment. "ScottishGovernment – News – Scotland's new Makar". news.scotland.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 15 March 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
- "Jackie Kay announced as new Scots Makar". BBC News. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
- Foundation, LGBT. "Jackie Kay MBE | LGBT Foundation". lgbt.foundation. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
- Rustin, Susanna (27 April 2012). "A life in writing: Jackie Kay". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
- Brown, Helen (5 June 2010). "Jackie Kay: Interview". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
- "Interview: Carol-Ann Duffy". Stylist. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
- Preston, John, "Carol Ann Duffy interview", The Telegraph, 11 May 2010.
- 9 April 2013, Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, Georgetown University.
- "The Royal Society of Edinburgh | 2016 Elected Fellows". Royalsoced.org.uk. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
- "Jackie Kay". British Council Literature. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
- Transcript of interview with Ramona Koval, The Book Show, ABC Radio National, 4 September 2008, recorded at Edinburgh International Book Festival, 2008
- Poetry Archive: Jackie Kay
- Biography, bibliography, prizes and awards, critical review and related links
- Streamed poetry read by Jackie Kay
- Bibliography, prizes and awards
- Guardian article (01/2002)
- Books From Scotland interview (12/2005)
- Free Verse interview (2002/01)
- Bold Type interview
- Audio interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2006.