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Anne Fine

As a child

Anne was born in Leicester. When she was three, her mother had triplet girls, so Anne was sent off to school early. She says she can’t ever remember not being able to read. When she reached the top of infant school, she had to wait a whole year until the junior school would take her, so spent the year reading the piles of books in the headteacher’s office. “I loved that year,” she says, “and since the practice for being a writer is reading, reading, reading, it was an excellent start. People who read a lot get to know, without even having to think about it much, exactly how writing works.” In secondary school, Anne learnt French and Spanish. She tried to learn Greek and Russian too, but could never get her head round their different alphabets (so she has a special sympathy for dyslexics). It was rather a strict girls’ school. Anne says she enjoyed the peace and quiet in the classrooms, the sense of order and fairness, and the very interesting work.

As an adult

Anne married at twenty, which seems very young to her now. She had two daughters, and she and her philosopher husband, Kit, began a series of moves across Britain, America and Canada. “Moving is hard work,” says Anne “especially with young children. But the nice thing is that you can change as you go along, leave old bits of yourself behind and be different, without forever having old friends and family around to insist, 'You’re not like that.'” In the end, Anne came back to Britain, where her children went to secondary school and university. Anne has a big hairy dog called Henry, lives in a stone house by a river, and enjoys walking and reading – especially walking on the flat along the river, and reading in the bath.

As an artist

Anne writes in absolute silence (apart from her own curses and mutters). She never lets herself be hurried to finish anything too fast, and she thinks that’s why so many of her books have won her prizes, here and abroad. She starts off in pencil, and gradually moves on to typing up. When she starts anything, she knows exactly which age she is writing for, “Myself at five, myself at nine, myself at thirteen, myself at forty-four.” Her work is translated into nearly thirty languages. She says, “Write a book you’d love to read, exactly as you’d love to read it. Then hope you’re not too much of a weirdo!”

Things you didn't know about Anne Fine

  1. Anne loathes shopping, and wears her clothes till they fall off her.
  2. Anne has unrivalled clutch control.
  3. Anne wears her watch on her right hand.
  4. Anne still bites her nails till they bleed.
  5. Anne detests cats (not frightened of them; just detests them).
  6. Anne reads for hours almost every day.
  7. Anne always goes to see films in the day, because it’s quieter.
  8. Anne never shows anyone her writing until it’s finished.
  9. Anne hates people who sniff in public.
  10. Anne is bored rigid by anything to do with sport.

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