I was born in Liverpool in 1946, where home was a flat in a low-rise estate called The Green, on Queen's Drive, near Broadgreen Hospital, where I was born. I went to Northway Primary School and then passed the 11+ to go to Aigburth Vale Girls' High School. This was old-fashioned state education and it served me very well indeed. Then when I was 14 my world was turned upside down by a move to the South-West of England, to Trowbridge in Wiltshire. That's when my beloved, hardworking parents obtained their first mortgage, on a three bed-roomed semi. It was such a step up in the world!I went to the local girls' grammar school and tried to learn a new accent, in order to fit in. It wasn't easy. But maybe writers should never really fit in…
When I left school I went to University College London, and in 1969 gained a first class honours degree in English Language and Literature. In 1968 I married my first husband, the broadcaster and writer Jonathan Dimbleby. We met in our second year (he was a philosophy student) and married in a whirlwind after knowing each other just four months. Our marriage was a real meeting of minds and was to last for 35 years, until 2003. When I graduated I expected to go back to Uni and do a PhD as invited by my department, but I was seduced down the primrose path of journalism, and have never regretted not writing that thesis on Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. Anyway, I am now a Fellow of UCL, an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores, and was awarded a Hon.D.Litt from The University of Bath in 1998.
My first job (in 1970) was on the now-legendary magazine NOVA, which was very exciting, as it used some of the best writers, photographers and designers around. I was Assistant to the Editor, then a feature writer, then Contributing Editor. After that I had a contract with the Telegraph Magazine, contributed to the Sunday Times, Guardian etc, and was a regular with the New Statesman, under the inspiring editorship of Anthony Howard. Later still I wrote columns variously in the Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan, the Listener and the Daily Mirror. In 1974 Jonathan and I had Daniel, then in 1975 our second son Tom was stillborn, and in 1980 we had Kitty. At that time we moved to Bath and I began another career as a broadcaster, making programmes for radio and television. I also began to write fiction, starting with 'The Windsurf Boy' (1983) and then the first 'Kitty' book, 'I Don't Want To' (1985). In 2005 I began a new strand of my career, writing a weekly advice column for The Times, and in 2007 I took that column to The Daily Mail. As a result of this rather different career, I am now Patron of both Relate and National Family Mediation.
In September 2007 I married photographer Robin Allison-Smith. We call ourselves Moon Media Ltd and work from home in the precious green belt outside Bath. My son Dan, his wife Aimee and their son share the property – as well as our love of the countryside. These days Robin and I don't have time for the shared travel journalism we used to enjoy, but tend to stay home with our beloved Maltese, Bonnie. We value our village and its activities - from the beautiful medieval church to the active residents' association. This is a long way from the Liverpool of my birth, but you can belong in two places, can't you? As well as looking out for kingfishers and otters, Robin and I love riding on his Harley-Davidson and 1961 Triumph Bonneville, dancing to our 1962 Wurlitzer, playing with the grandchildren, hanging out with family and friends and going to the theatre, concerts and art galleries as well. By the way, art is my private passion.
- We have an interest in a boutique ski chalet in the French Alps so if you'd like a wonderful holiday (fun in summer too) visit www.snowtrippin.co.uk and get in touch with Dani and Paul.
- Or if your taste is a cosy cottage in the English countryside (steamer chairs provided but don't forget wellies and waterproofs!) check out www.ownersdirect.co.uk and into the search box top left, enter the number p8156054 and click the search icon.
- For superb vintage vehicles to grace your wedding or other event take a look at www.splitscreenicecream.com