Jenny grew up in Cumbria and Dorset and studied English at Oxford. Until 2012, she was Editorial Director of Chatto & Windus, part of Random House.
Jenny reviews for press and radio and has been a historical consultant on several BBC classic serials and films. She was created an OBE in 2008 and was winner of the Benson Medal for services to literature in 2012 and Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, 2014-6. She is married to Steve Uglow, Professor Emeritus at Kent Law School, the University of Kent. They live in Canterbury and Cumbria and have four grown-up children — Tom, Hannah, Jamie and Luke – and seven grand-children – Matilda, Max, Felix, Billy, Cassie, Dash and Esther.
Her books on writers and artists include studies of George Eliot, Henry Fielding and Walter Crane and the biographies Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories; Hogarth: A Life and a World and Nature’s Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick, and a visionary Victorian woman architect in The Pinecone: The Story of Sarah Losh. In the short Words and Pictures: Writers, Artists and a Peculiarly British Tradition, she explored the relationship between image and text from the works of Milton and Bunyan to Dickens and Phiz and Lewis Carroll and Tenniel.
Her biography of Edward Lear, Mr Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense, won the Hawthornden Prize in 2018, and the recent Sybil and Cyril: Cutting Through Time, about the 1930s lino-cutters Sybil Andrews and Cyril Power, published in November 2021, has been described as ‘A joy to read’. (Sunday Times)
She is particularly well known for pioneering group biographies, including the award-winning The Lunar Men: The Friends who Made the Future; and In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815, a picture of the home front through twenty years of war. Her other books include Cultural Babbage: Time, Technology and Invention (edited with Francis Spufford); A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration and the much-loved A Little History of British Gardening.
UK: Zoe Waldie at Rogers, Coleridge & White (contact Natasia Patel Natasia@rcwlitagency.com)
USA: Melanie Jackson at Melanie Jackson Agency