Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith is the author of six novels, two works of non-fiction and the text of a picture book. Her work has been published around the world. She was born in London and grew up in Brockham and then Reigate in Surrey before studying History at the University of Southampton where she is now a principal teaching fellow in English and Creative Writing. Barbara Trapido called her “the perfect English miniaturist”. Rebecca has Scottish, Indian and English heritage.

Conversations With An Octopus (Legend Press, 2024) is Rebecca Smith’s most recent work. It’s a crime novel set in a fictional Devon town over one sweltering summer and is a tale of women’s anger, sea creatures, friendship, and ice cream.

Legend Press also publish The Ash Museum (2021) which tells the story of five generations of a family and draws on the history of Rebecca’s own family in India, Canada and England and explores themes of migration, colonialism, loss, and the power of objects for telling stories. It was partly inspired by the time Rebecca spent as Writer in Residence at Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, Hampshire.

Rebecca’s innovative and practical book on writing, The Jane Austen Writers’ Club: Inspiration and Advice from the World’s Best-Loved Novelist delightfully illustrated by Sarah J. Coleman (Bloomsbury, 2016) also grew from her time at Jane Austen’s House and the many writing workshops she ran there. It has Her agony aunt book, Jane Austen’s Guide to Modern Life’s Dilemmas was published by Ivy Press in 2012. Rebecca also wrote the text for the picture book, Where’s Jane? (Ivy Kids, 2018) which was beautifully illustrated by Katy Dockrill.

Shadow Cat Summer (Stairwell Books, 2021) is Rebecca’s first novel for children. It’s a middle-grade story about big cats wild in the Scottish Highlands and coping with parental absence and mental illness. It has gorgeous illustrations by Dawn Treacher. An early version of it was shortlisted for The Kelpies Prize.

Bloomsbury published Rebecca’s first three novels, The Bluebird Café (2001) Happy Birthday and All That (2003) and A Bit of Earth (2006) all to great acclaim.

Rebecca Smith is married and has three grown-up children. Her son, Gabriel Smith’s first novel, Brat, is being published around the world in 2024. Brat’s protagonist (who is also called Gabriel) is the son of a writer called Rebecca Smith, who sadly has dementia. Brat’s Gabriel finds the manuscript of a strange novel his mother has forgotten about: A Bit of Earth.

Rebecca Smith’s mother is the Booker-shortlisted novelist and short story writer, Shena Mackay. The artist, Cecily Brown, is one of Rebecca’s sisters. Rebecca is one of Jane Austen’s five times great nieces, descended from Sir Francis Austen who became Admiral of The Fleet.