Annabel Abbs is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. She grew up in Wales and Sussex, with stints in Dorset, Bristol and Hereford. Daughter of academic and poet, Peter Abbs, she has a degree in English Literature from the University of East Anglia and a Masters from the University of Kingston. She lives with her family in London and Sussex, and is a Fellow of the Brown Foundation.
Annabel’s debut novel, The Joyce Girl, won the 2015 Impress Prize for New Writing and the 2015 Spotlight First Novel Award, and was longlisted for the 2015 Caledonia Novel Award, the 2015 Bath Novel Award and the 2016 Waverton Good Read Award. It was a Reader Pick in The Guardian 2016 and was one of ten books selected for presentation at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival. In 2022 it was shortlisted for the Grand Prix de Lecteurs. Published across the world, Annabel discussed The Joyce Girl on BBC Radio 4’s Soul Music. It is currently being adapted for the stage.
Her second novel, Frieda: The Originial Lady Chatterley, was a Times Book of the Month, then a Times Book of the Year 2018 and one of five novels selected for presentation to film directors at the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair. Frieda has been translated into six languages. Annabel spoke about Frieda on BBC Woman’s Hour.
Annabel’s third novel, the story of Eliza Acton, Britain’s first domestic goddess, and a best-selling cookery book writer (and a poet) was published in the US in October 2021, by William Morrow as Miss Eliza’s English Kitchen. It was selected for Good Housekeeping’s Book Club Pick, Country Living Magazine’s Autumn Pick, the Historical Novel Society’s Editor’s Choice and the New York Times Books‘ Best Historical Fiction for Winter. In the UK, the novel was acquired at auction by Simon & Schuster, and published in February 2022 as The Language of Food. It is currently being translated into sixteen languages. In 2021 it was optioned by Stampede Ventures and CBS.
Annabel’s first non-fiction book, The Age-Well Project, was published by Little, Brown in 2019, co-written with TV producer, Susan Saunders, and based on their acclaimed blog agewellproject.com, longlisted for the 2018 UK Blog Awards.
Annabel’s first foray into memoir and her first solo-authored non-fiction book, Windswept: Walking in the Footsteps of Remarkable Women, was acquired at auction by Two Roads and was published in June 2021. In the US, Windswept was acquired by Tin House and published in September 2021, with the subtitle Walking the Paths of Trailblazing Women. Windswept tells the extraordinary stories of eight women who walked long distances in wild and often remote places as they sought their own voices. They include Simone de Beauvoir, Nan Shepherd, Georgia O’Keeffe, Gwen John and Daphne du Maurier. Windswept has been acquired in countries across Europe, including Italy, Holland, France and Germany, and was voted a Top Ten 2021 Travel Book by Smithsonian Magazine and Wanderlust Magazine, as well as Australia’s Travel Magazine. In 2022, Windswept was shortlisted for the Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize.
In spring 2022, Annabel’s third non-fiction book will be published, under the name Annabel Streets: 52 Ways to Walk (Bloomsbury UK and Putnam Penguin Random House US) is an exploration of the lesser-known science behind the simple act of walking. Early reviews described it as inspirational, spiritual and informative.
Annabel’s short stories and journalism have appeared in various places including The Guardian, The Paris Review, Tatler, The Irish Times, Weekend Australian Review, Elle, Sydney Morning Post, The Author, The Daily Telegraph, Psychologies Magazine, Philosophy Now, Mslexia and the Huffington Post. She has been profiled in Writing Magazine, Sussex Life, Next NZ, Litro and Female First and speaks regularly at literary festivals. She sponsors a scholarship/bursary on the UEA Creative Writing MA. Find out more here.
Hear Annabel discussing Frieda with Jenni Murray on BBC Woman’s Hour here.