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Kate Summerscale Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

The Queen of Whale Cay (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Wicked Boy (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Haunting of Alma Fielding (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Book of Phobias and Manias (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Kate Summerscale is an award-winning English author that writes historical novels. Kate was inspired to write her first book while writing an obituary. She came across a fascinating figure that drove her to dig deep into history.

Kate has since garnered popularity for her ability to present history in a novel format using only that information that is available about the historical situation in question.


Kate Summerscale was born in 1965 in Japan. The location of her birth was the result of her father’s work as a diplomat. She also got to live in Chile as a child. A former student of Parliament Hill School (London) and Bedales School, Kate attended Stanford University where she got her MA in journalism.

The author has had the opportunity to work with a number of print publications. Kate’s writing career didn’t take off until 2005. That was when she decided to devote her time to writing ‘The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher’.

It meant abandoning her position as the Daily Telegraph’s literary editor but Kate couldn’t keep the voices in her head quiet. She had a story to tell so she went ahead and told it.

Kate Summerscale’s novel was a big hit. Not only was it adapted into a trio of fictional dramas exploring the adventures of Jack Whicher but Kate won prizes like the Somerset Maugham Award.

It is worth noting that the first novel Kate Summerscale wrote was ‘The Queen of Whale Cay’. However, the author’s Mr. Whicher book has grown so popular that many people consider it to be Kate’s first real stab at literary success.

+Literary Career

Kate Sumemrscale describes herself as a journalist. She writes novels but, as far as she is concerned, the fictional stories within her books are the result of her journalistic endeavor. This is because so many of the stories Kate writes are based on historical facts.

Kate Summerscale knew she was going to write for a living from a very young age. Kate thinks it was because she was always traveling abroad. Writing sounded like the one career that would allow her to put her imagination to good use.

It was for that reason that the author studied English at Oxford. Interestingly enough, Oxford didn’t do much to point Kate in the direction of writing. If anything, she came to the conclusion that she had to be a little more practical about her future prospects, which is why she decided to pursue an MA in Communications at Stanford in California.

While Kate saw a lot of action working for various newspapers and magazines, it was in the obituaries that the author felt most fulfilled, particularly during her time with the Telegraph.

For Kate, writing an obituary was like creating a biography. She was meeting new people, digging into their lives and finding ways of describing them in the fewest words possible.

And because she was anonymous, Kate found that she had the freedom to experiment with her writing. It was a unique sensation, one that saw her dig into the past to find as many fragments as she could about her deceased subjects so she could represent them in the best possible light.

It was during her days in the Obituary business that Kate Summerscale stumbled upon the idea for her first novel. In 1993, someone wrote to the Daily Telegraph. A lady was determined to get Marion Barbara Carstairs, her godmother into the obituary section, and she was certain that Marion would be a suitable subject.

Kate wasn’t exactly convinced by the appeal so she decided to look into Marion. What she found fascinated her. It turned out that Marion, who was born in 1900, was a bit of a rebel, and not just because of her cross-dressing proclivities.

Marion had lived a full and adventurous life, one filled with as many wonders as mysteries. Kate was so consumed by the story of Marion that she couldn’t bring herself to write her obituary. To be more specific, Kate Summerscale didn’t believe that an obituary would do her subject justice.

Kate needed a bigger canvas on which Marion’s story could be collected and displayed. So Kate wrote a book about her. Published in 1997, ‘The Queen of Whale Cay’ wasn’t the first notable biography in bookstores at the time. In fact, many an author was having their name made via their ability to produce groundbreaking biographies of historical figures.

However, Kate’s book stood out because it was such an unusual telling of a life that could have easily been fiction. And it won the author a lot of recognition, though that did not spur Kate forward to pursue a writing career.

Instead, Kate got the chance to be a literary editor at the Telegraph. It was a dream come true and one that killed the author’s future in journalism. Once Kate became a literary editor, she found that nothing else in the field appealed to her. There were no more ambitious goals for her to target.

So once her child was born and her situation with her long-term partner, from whom she is separated, settled, Kate decided to leave journalism and write fulltime.

+The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

When 3-year-old Saville Kent is murdered in 1860, all of England is shocked. At the time there are only eight detectives in the nation, and none of them ever saw fit to come to London.

However, Saville’s crime is so shocking that Inspector Jonathan Whicher, the best detective in Scotland Yard, is sent to investigate. Jonathan had no idea that the case would destroy his life.

He couldn’t imagine the fallout of accusing one of Saville’s family members of killing him without sufficient proof. He was thoroughly broken by the time he left, and it would take years before his theory was finally vindicated.

+Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace

Isabella married Henry Robinson in 1844 when she was 31, this after the death of her first husband. They ended up in Edinburgh where Henry abandoned Isabella to its elegant society, always traveling and typically cold to her even when he was home.

Because Isabella was abandoned so often, she couldn’t keep her fantasies in check and it wasn’t long before she was jotting all her innermost thoughts about Doctor Edward lane – a married man—in her diary.

When Henry finds his wife’s diary years later, it believes it to be proof of infidelity. Henry’s attempts to divorce his wife shake the foundations of society in Victorian Era England.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Kate Summerscale

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