Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962 and lives in Cambridge.
She studied English language and literature at the University of Aberdeen and American and Irish modernism in Cambridge. She wrote poetry and plays, lectured in Glasgow for a few years before returning to Cambridge to focus on writing. In 1995 Smith published her first book, Free Love and Other Stories, which won the Saltire First Book of the Year Award and Scottish Arts Council Book Award. She has since continued to work as a journalist, academic, playwright and author.
Her recent publications include How To Be Both (2014), winner of the Goldsmiths and Baileys Prize and the Costa Book Award for Best Novel; a collection of short stories, Public Library (2015) and four novels making up a ‘seasonal quartet’: Autumn (2016), Winter (2017), Spring (2019) and Summer (2020). Like Smith's earlier novels Hotel World (2001), The Accidental (2005) and How to Be Both, Autumn was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
In 2018, Ali Smith was named ‘best British novelist working today’ by 200 critics, authors and academics polled by the Times Literary Supplement. In her ‘state-of-the-nation’ quartet, completed this year with the publication of Summer, she captures the present in the most vivid colours and brilliant style. Four dazzling novels about love, time, art, politics, and how we live right now.
At the Crossing Border Festival Ali Smith will receive the European Literature Award 2020 for Spring (2019), which brings together Katherine Mansfield, Charlie Chaplin, Shakespeare, Rilke, Beethoven, Brexit, the present, the past, the north, the south, the east, the west, a man mourning times lost and a woman trapped in the modern time. With an eye to the migrancy of story over time, and riffing on Shakespeare’s Pericles, Ali Smith tells the impossible tale of an impossible time. In a time of walls and lockdown, she opens the door. The time we're living in is changing nature. Will it change the nature of story? Hope springs eternal.