Alison MacLeod is a novelist and short story writer.  Her next novel, Tenderness, will be published in the UK and USA by Bloomsbury Publishing, and in Canada by Penguin Canada, in September 2021. 

Her most recent novel,  Unexploded (Hamish Hamilton UK and Penguin Canada), was long-listed for the 2013 Man-Booker Prize for Fiction, named one of the Observer‘s ‘Books of the Year’, and serialised for BBC Radio 4 (Sweet Talk Productions). 

Her most recent story collection All the Beloved Ghosts (Bloomsbury UK/USA and Penguin CA), was shortlisted for The 2018 Edge Hill Short Story Prize for best single-author short story collection in the UK and Ireland.  It was a finalist for Canada’s 2017 Governor General’s Award for Fiction and named one of the Guardian‘s ‘Best Books of 2017’.  



MacLeod was born in Montreal, Quebec of Nova Scotian parents and was raised in Quebec, Michigan, and Nova Scotia.  Her family’s roots in Nova Scotia are several-generations deep, and she visits twice annually.  She has lived in England since 1987 and is a citizen of both Canada and the U.K.  Brighton, England has been her adopted home since 2000.



Her earlier work includes the novels The Changeling (1996) and The Wave Theory of Angels (2005), and the short story collection, Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction (2007).

Her short fiction has been awarded The Society of Authors’ Olive Cook Award and nominated for The BBC National Short Story Award and The Sunday Times EFG International Short Story Award. Her stories are often broadcast on BBC radio.  In 2016, she was a winner of The Eccles British Library Writer’s Award.  She has also been the recipient of awards from Arts Council England, the Authors Foundation, and Canada Council for the Arts.




MacLeod has been a guest on such BBC programmes as Open Book, Front Row, The World TonightFree ThinkingThe Verb and Woman’s Hour.  She has appeared at numerous literary festivals, including The Sunday Times Oxford Festival, The Cambridge Literary Festival, The Cork International Short Story Festival, The Charleston International Festival, The Jaipur Literature Festival, The International Festival of Authors (Toronto), and The Hong Kong International Literary Festival.  She has guest-lectured at a range of universities, both in the UK and internationally.


MacLeod leads the new Arts Council England & National Lottery funded project ‘The Stories We Tell’, in partnership with Arvon, The British Library and New Writing South.  She commissions and edits The Stories We Tell ‘Writer to Writer Essay Series’.   She also programmes ‘The Stories We Tell’, an Arts-Council-funded education project in which established UK writers offer workshops to under-represented groups of new and emerging writers, including a workshop programme for homeless young adults in London.  

She is Associate Editor of Short Fiction in Theory and Practice (Intellect Books).


She has been a writer-in-residence for the British Library’s Eccles Centre, Raffles Hotel (Singapore), the Banff Centre (Canada), The Pari Center (Tuscany), and The Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft (UK).


MacLeod has served as a judge for various literary prizes and awards, including The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, The Mslexia Prize for Fiction, The International Manchester Fiction Prize, The London Magazine Short Story Prize, The Brighton Short Story Prize, and The Charleston-Bede Award for Lifetime Achievement in Short Fiction, most recently awarded to A.S. Byatt.


She is an occasional contributor to The Sunday Times, the Guardian, Prospect and The Ottawa Citizen.



She has 25 years’ experience of teaching under-grad and post-grad literature and creative writing courses; also of programme and curriculum design, as well as extensive Ph.D. supervision experience and Ph.D examination throughout the UK.  From 2009-2018 she was Professor of Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chichester.  Many of her students have gone on to publish, and to win awards and nominations. 

She teaches widely in the community for organisations such as Arvon, New Writing South and Moniack Mhor, and continues to contribute to the University of Chichester as Visiting Professor of English and Creative Writing.

For mentorship information, please see the ‘Mentorship’ page.



For news of Alison MacLeod’s readings and events, please see the ‘News’ page.


(Photos: copyright © Kate MacLeod 2019)