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Jackie Kay

Scotland (b.1961)

Born in Glasgow  to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father, Kay was adopted by a white couple, Helen and John Kay, as a baby. Brought up in Bishopbriggs, a Glasgow suburb, she has an older adopted brother, Maxwell as well as siblings by her adoptive parents.

Kay's adoptive father worked full-time for the Communist Party and stood for election as a Member of Parliament, and her adoptive mother was the secretary of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

Initially harbouring ambitions to be an actress, she decided to concentrate on writing after encouragement by Alasdair Gray. 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. Her other awards include the 1994 Somerset Maugham Award for Other Lovers, and the Guardian Fiction Prize for Trumpet, based on the life of American jazz musician Billy Tipton, born Dorothy Tipton, who lived as a man for the last fifty years of her life.

Genres: Literary Fiction
   Stepping Out (1986)
   Trumpet (1998)
   Strawgirl (2002)
   Bystander (2016)
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   Gay Sweat-Shop (1989) (with Noel Greig and Andy Kirby)
   From Severe Gale 8 (poems) (1991)
   The Adoption Papers (poems) (1991)
   That Distance Apart (poems) (1991)
   Two's Company (poems) (1992)
   Three Has Gone (poems) (1994)
   Other Lovers (poems) (1997)
   Twice Through the Heart (poems) (1997)
   Teeth (poems) (1998)
   The Frog Who Dreamed She Was an Opera Singer (poems) (1998)
   Off Colour (poems) (1998)
   Five Finger-piglets (poems) (1999) (with Carol Ann Duffy, Roger McCough, Gareth Owen and Brian Patten)
   The Poetry Quartets (poems) (2001) (with Simon Armitage, Kathleen Jamie and Glyn Maxwell)
   The Horrible Headmonster (poems) (2001)
   Number Parade (poems) (2002)
   Why Don't You Stop Talking (2002)
   Life Mask (poems) (2005)
   New and Selected Poems (poems) (2006)
   Wish I Was Here (2006)
   Darling (poems) (2007)
   Red, Cherry Red (poems) (2007)
   The Lamplighter (poems) (2008)
   Fiere (poems) (2011)
   Out of Bounds (poems) (2012)
   Reality, Reality (2012)
   Ten Poems of Kindness (poems) (2017)
   Bantam (poems) (2017)
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   Sonata (2006)
Series contributed to
Anthologies edited
   Crossing the Lines (2011) (with Kachi A Ozumba)
Non fiction
Guardian Fiction Prize Best Novel winner (1998) : Trumpet
International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards Best Novel nominee (2000) : Trumpet

Jackie Kay recommends
Tell it to the Bees (2009)
Fiona Shaw
"A page-turning, involving read that makes you ask big questions about the world and its prejudices. Liberating and uplifting."
This Party's Got to Stop (2010)
Rupert Thomson
"It's a riot and tear-jerkingly sad."

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