She has an OBE for Services to Literature, and is the first female chair of the Royal Society of Literature.
She has worked and worked and worked and worked to get to where she is today. And the story is interesting, and she tells it well.
She wrote The White Family. It was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. It should have won. (See also The Siege by Helen Dunmore, who spoke at the festival last year.)
She understands the excruciatingly fine balance between ability, hard work and luck in establishing and maintaining a writing career, and writes about it with honesty.
Her novels are full of energy, characters who live and breathe, descriptions that mean something and a generosity that pervades the worlds she explores.
She is very, very kind to people who burst into tears when they try to explain to their fellow students on a writing course just what her writing meant to them. (Obviously this is a purely hypothetical supposition. I mean, I’m sure she would be very kind to someone etc. etc. I mean. Really. Who’d burst into tears at a writing course?)
If you want to write, she’ll encourage you. If you already write, she’ll inspire you. And if you haven’t read her yet, you’re in for a wonderful discovery. (If you’ve already read Maggie Gee, then I expect you’ve booked your ticket. If not, then visit www.little-missenden.org).