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Shena Mackay came to fame aged 20 when she published her first book, written in her teens, with Andre Deutsch. At times darkly surreal and funny, always deft, and highly memorable, her fiction has attracted a legion of fierce admirers ranging from Iris Murdoch to Julie Burchill, Ian Hamilton to Rachel Cooke.
She was born in Edinburgh but her family moved often and were living in Blackheath, South East London, when Shena left school at 16. Winning a £25 poetry prize in the (prestigious) Daily Mirror Children's Literary Competition marked the beginning of her writing life. Part of her teens - she got married when she was 20 - were spent in Earls Court and the seedy Soho of the 1960s, and she was privileged to meet many artists, visiting Henry Moore at Much Hadham and drinking whisky from bone china tea cups with David Hockney in Powis Square. In the early 1970s she moved to the country with her husband and three children, and re-emerged as a writer in the 80s with a collection of stories, followed by more works including the Booker Shortlisted The Orchard on Fire.