Welcome – this is the official Rosie Thomas website.

Rosie Thomas was born and grew up in a small village in north Wales.

After winning a scholarship, she became a boarder at Howell’s School. The school had a strong tradition of music and games, but unfortunately Rosie had no aptitude for hockey and no enthusiasm for Gilbert and Sullivan choruses. She found the library instead … and read, and read. To feel an outsider and to be immersed in books was the ideal apprenticeship for a writer.

Rosie read English at St Hilda’s College Oxford, and for the first time in her life felt that she was in the right place at the right time. She still feels a debt to the remarkable women who taught her, and who encouraged her to think for herself.

After a few years of working in women’s magazines and for a publisher, and by now married to a literary agent, Rosie found herself at home with a new baby son and no job. To write a novel seemed the more promising of the options open to her.

Her first book was published in 1982, shortly after the birth of her daughter. She has been writing full time ever since, and that first novel has been followed by a score of others.

Rosie lives and writes in London, but she is also a keen traveller, mountaineer and skier. Among many adventures she has climbed in the Alps and the Himalayas, trekked in Pakistan, Ladakh and Bhutan, followed the Silk Route through Asia, worked on a research station in Antarctica, sailed the Atlantic, explored in Chile, and competed in a classic car rally from Peking to Paris. Most recently she has sailed the southern ocean from Falklands to South Georgia and then crossed the island in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Rosie believes now that her travelling and writing are interdependent, and that one informs and enables the other.

All along the road there are stories, waiting to be told.

Among her other interests, Rosie has been a Trustee of the London Library and of the facial reconstruction charity Saving Faces. She has chaired the Betty Trask Prize.

Her work has twice been awarded the Romantic Novel the Year, and recently The Kashmir Shawl won the epic category of the prize.

She is currently at work on a new book.

175 thoughts on “Welcome – this is the official Rosie Thomas website.

  1. Kenya is proud of you. Am reading ‘If My Father Loved Me ‘ its awesome ! Your language is beautifully intertwined. You are my mentor in writing. Kudos. God bless you.

  2. Thank you for the signed copy of your latest book Rosie, arrived in the post this morning and I will be starting it tonight. Will let you know my thoughts on it soon, Jo

      • you might have been more charitable towards Howells…if wasn’t for them you wouldn’t have got to uni. or been able to do what followed…….

      • Not quite sure where you are coming from with this one. Howell’s had nothing to do with my university career since I failed everything there.
        I did a new set of A-levels at night school while doing a full-time job: hard work, but worth it for finally discovering good teaching. And then, as I wrote, the dons at my Oxford college were generous enough to take a chance on seemingly unpromising material. I owe them everything that followed, not my unhappy experience at a now defunct girls boarding school of the most repressive kind.

  3. Just finished “The Illusionists.”Enjoyed the intrigue and some graphic theater scenes. Did you write this with a film in mind?

  4. As Federation of WI’s we are having our Literary Lunch on 17 March 2016 which you are our keynote speaker. Is there any chance we can have a photo for our County News to publicise the event. Could you send ASAP a picture our County News editor at annie.makepiece@btinternet.com
    Many thanks
    Margaret Lomax. Somerset Federation of WI’s

    • I am afraid I am overseas for the next month and don’t have access to my data. Would it be possible for you to make contact with my publicist, Louise Swannell at HarperCollins UK, who will definitely be able to provide everything you need. Best regards.

  5. I just started reading The Kashmir Shawl. I am appalled at the negative portrayal of the Israeli tourists. They are portrayed as a trio of rude young men. They are repeatedly described as Israeli. It adds nothing to the story that I can see except to show the anti- semitic bent of the author.

    It, also, strikes me as odd that 3 Israeli men traveling together would speak to each other in English rather than Hebrew. I guess the author wants to be sure that we understand how rude they are.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, and I appreciate your taking the trouble to state your views. Sad to say, this is one of those cases of life informing fiction. I had exactly Mair’s experience on one of the research trips I took out of Leh when I was putting together the background for the novel. Of the three young men who affected our day, one was certainly Israeli because I noticed his passport. They were speaking English – or rather American – at least in the context of our Anglophone tour group. I apologise, however, if you find this direct reportage out of place in a work of fiction. You may well be right, and if there is an opportunity I will look into changing it in a future edition. However, I’m not sure that it makes me anti-semitic. If the culprits had been Australian, say, or any other nationality, I would certainly have said so. Is there any difference?

  6. Hi Rosie
    I came across your book “The Kashmir Shawl”, in a market stall. I was first attracted to the cover and upon reading the first few pages, I knew I must purchase it! I haven’t been able to put it down, its very hot here in Adelaide, South Australia! so I sit in a cool spot in the house and immerse myself in the book and forget how hot it is. My Dad has been tracing our family heritage and my grandmothers grandfather was from Mumbai. Her Grandfather Muhammad Tchan travelled from Mumbai to Perth, Western Australia as a pioneer to settle there. Now I want to try to trace him back to Mumbai. your book is inspiring to keep going, the information is very scarce due to the census came very late in India.
    I will also look out for more of your books! All the best Jane Fitzgerald

    • Hello Jane, very many thanks for your interesting message. How fascinating for you and your father to be able to trace your great-great-grandfather’s history, and to know that you have Indian heritage. I am very envious!
      I am so pleased to hear that you are enjoying THE KASHMIR SHAWL. I loved my time in India, especially in the Himalayan regions.
      Enjoy your reading in the SA hot weather. It’s freezing here in London….

  7. From my perch on a peninsula north of Auckland, I salute one of the most diverse romantic writers I have ever ad the pleasure of reading, I am gradually collected all copies of your books and eagerly await each new publication. Kiwi Girl. Maree

    • Dear Maree, thank you so much for taking the trouble to write, and for your kind words about my work – it means a lot. I was in Auckland late last year, and a few years before that travelling around your part of the world. It’s such wonderful countryside, and I love to think of your peninsular perch. Enjoy your reading!

  8. I have just this instant finished reading THE KASHMIR SHAWL and enjoyed it immensely. I particularly enjoyed your portrayal of women in the early 1900’s. Your writing shows the strength , originality and independence of the three women characters in the early years when it was so obviously difficult for women to have these traits. Most novels of this era portray women as weak and submissive but your characters showed great strength during difficult times not to mention their cam araderie and devotion to one another under great stress. These traits are usually assigned only to men and I found this unique and refreshing. Thank you for a wonderful read!

  9. I have read all your books and none of them have disappointed me . I love reading .
    Just finished The Illusionists and it was brilliant -couldn’t stop reading it and finished it in 2 days !! The characters were brilliant . Who was the inspiration for Heinrich ??
    lOVED the Kashmir shawl TOO.

    • Dear Hilary, thank you so much for these kind words. I’m particularly happy you liked THE ILLUSIONISTS – I am out and about at the moment, promoting the book and its successor, DAUGHTER OF THE HOUSE (out in paperback in May), so it’s really encouraging to hear from a reader who has already devoured it. I didn’t base poor Heinrich on any one individual, but I think he is a mixture of unbalanced genius/mad inventors in fact and fiction, with perhaps a dash of Ripper? Did he seem familiar from your own reading? Glad you liked KASHMIR SHAWL too. This one seems to be the most popular of my recent titles.
      Very best wishes, and thank you for getting in touch.

  10. Absolutely adored Daughter of the house. I have read every single one of your books with real pleasure. Bad girls good women is my all time favourite book. Any chance your latest will be out for my holiday to Thailand in August? Thank you so much x

    • Thank you Carole, it’s good to hear from you and I’m delighted you like the books. BAD GIRLS is one of my favourites, too.
      Progress is slow on the current work, I’m afraid. Enjoy your holiday, and your reading.

  11. Hi Rosie
    Warwick WI book club loved your book Kashmir Shawl and is currently enjoying Daughter of the House. Do you have any reading groups discussion questions which we can use to inform our usually lively meeting. Many thanks, Anne

    • Hello Anne, glad to hear your book club members have chosen TWO Rosie Thomas titles recently! I will have a think about some questions if you could let me know when the meeting is?

  12. Hi
    I have just finished Iris & Ruby, it was amazing, incredible and so evocative. I am looking forward to reading more of your works.

    • Hello Jackie, thank you so much, and all the members of the Birmingham Mobile Library Reading Group. I so enjoyed reading the various members’ reviews, via the link you kindly included, and am thrilled that The Kashmir Shawl was the favourite. Enjoy your reading and the book discussions, everyone!
      PS. I am just reading The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir. It’s fascinating – and I’d never read anything by this writer except The Second Sex. Maybe some of your members who have time and appetite for a l-o-n-g, complex novel might enjoy this one?




    • Dear Christiane, thank you so much for taking the trouble to write to me on this page. Forgive me that my French isn’t good enough to attempt a fluent reply. It is always a joy to hear from a reader, but there is an extra dimension to hearing from a reader in translation, and I am delighted that you enjoyed LES BRUMES DE CAIRE. (IRIS AND RUBY in the English version). I’m sorry to hear of your illness, and I hope that reading continues to offer comfort, escape and inspiration. I will look out for Daniel Pennac.
      My very best wishes to you.

  14. Hello Rosie, I’m working my way through your books. A long time ago I read the Potter’s House and enjoyed it very much. Now I’ve recently read Every Woman Knows a Secret and found it fascinating and sent it to my sister. Then I realized that you were also the author of the Potter’s House. I just finished the Kashmir Shawl and If My Father Loved Me and found many parallels to my own life. I’m American by birth, grandparents & parents from both sides of my family having immigrated to the U.S.A. and Mexico from Europe between the two world wars. I’ve lived in Israel for the last 49 years of my life. I noticed the reference to the 3 Israeli youths in the Kashmir Shawl but didn’t take offence as I know that Israelis tend to be outspoken and loud when together overseas!!!!
    Just wanted to tell you that I admire your writing and your adventurous life. Being immersed in your books takes me away, partially, from the horrendous events currently happening in the world! All the best, Shirley Oren

    • Thank you for getting in touch, Shirley. Much appreciated, and apologies for the slow response. I’ve been away.
      You certainly have an interesting pedigree. Thank you for your kind words about my Israeli-youths blunder. I just wrote what I experienced, as I often do, and it never occurred to me for a second that anyone would regard it as anti-semitic. My partner is Jewish, apart from anything else…..
      What a world we do live in.
      Enjoy your reading.

  15. What a great blog. I happened upon it because I was looking for a Book I read when I was 17 yrs old ( about 1973!) about a Rosie who went overland to Kathmandu in a camper van. I am looking to read it again. All I know is her first name.. cant remember any more and have been googling like mad. Was this you?
    However ahving come across ” you” it would appear you are writing some stonkingly good books so I am ordering some on Amazon. Plenty of adventures /Colonial stories and I cant wait to get reading. Thank you

    • Hello Jackie – thanks for your message, so glad you like the blog. A bit neglected of late, due to travel/family wedding/work…. but posting again soon.
      I don’t know the book you are searching for, I’m afraid. It wasn’t by me, although my BORDER CROSSING sounds similar. We drove from Beijing overland to Paris, via Kathmandu, in a classic car rally.
      It’s available on Amazon, if you like the sound of it!
      Best wishes.

      • The book I read in 1974. I knew it was by a Rosie. I hoped it had been you. Saying that, I have stumbled upon your Blog and how amazing is that? Wonderful stories and tales of travel and adventure. I am loving the Border Crossing and indeed will purchase it for one of my holiday reads. I shall read and follow with much interest. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to respond

  16. I have just finished Daughter of The House and yet again was totally immersed, felt more real when reading than in my normal (and also good and interesting) life. How wonderful to be able to write as you do. Nancy is a superb character. Best wishes Mary Zuckerman

    • Hello Mary, how good to hear from you and thank you for your generous words. Glad that all is well and interesting in your life. How strange to think that it’s more than 50 years since we were confined in that place!

      • I have just now seen your reply. About ‘that place’ I have been wanting to tell you that I have a vague mental picture of you sitting reading in the library. In my imagination (and of course it may be just that) you are sitting over to the left in the middle part of the room between shelves. And why? Beacause I am sitting there reading too, though I see me somewhere in the middle where there were no shelves- and I was there for I think much the same reasons as you. A safe place in a not so kind world. Come to think of it I still do this, and right now more than ever, and the book that is giving me respite and comfort right now is ‘If my father loved me’. You have an emotional honesty which I love, plus your books are all different, no genre stuff here in that I can’t ever see where your stories are leading. If you find yourself near Purbeck in Dorset you would always be welcome. Love and thanks Mary

  17. Oh thank you for your wonderful books, my friend recommended the Kashmir shawl & I haven’t stopped since… I’m gradually working my way through them & couldn’t possibly say which is my favourite.. they are all so good & not similar at all…..I live in a heavenly place in Cyprus ….the subject of Victoria Hislops last book The Sunrise…but I’m sure there is lot’s of inspiration here for you too….keep up the fantastic work….hope you make it over here sometime……many thanks Maureen Wild

    • How good to hear from you, Maureen. So pleased you are enjoying the books, and their differences. I could never imagine writing the same book over and over….
      Lucky you to live in beautiful Cyprus. I have been a couple of times, but only on beach holidays so I don’t know anything about the interior. My partner is from a Greek Cypriot family, although his father left there as a young man.
      Thank you for taking the time to drop me a line – enjoy your reading.

  18. I have just finished “The Kashmir Shawl”. How amazing! I finished it in a few days, I couldn’t wait to read the ending. Really suitable for the screen. All the best !!! Maria Lida from Italy

      • Dear Rosie, I’ve just finished “Constance”. It has really tugged at my heartstrings. Bravissima Rosie! I am looking forward to reading the next one. My best regards! Maria Lida from Italy

      • Hello Maria, I’m so pleased to hear you enjoyed Constance. It wasn’t an easy one to write, because it made me sad too! Best wishes to you.

  19. In case Mary Zuckerman of Purbeck Dorset is reading this, we are having Rosie Thomas as our guest at the Sherborne Literary Society Lunch TOMORROW 20 JULY and if you want to come phone me at 01935 812561 and wel’ll find a place for you.
    Mark Greenstock Chairman

  20. I have just discovered Rosie Thomas and what a pleasure reading Sun at Midnight was. A powerful and heart rendering story. I am so lucky that I now have so many new books to read.

  21. I have just finished reading The Kashmir Shawl. I am confused. Where and when did Nerys have a child. It mentions Mair is her granddaughter. Evan would not adopt so explain to me the connection to Mair and Nerys? I loved the book, but left me up in the air.

    • Hello Geraldine, many apologies that it has taken me an age to attend to your query. If you still have the copy of the book to hand, on page 4 it says that Nerys and Evan finally came back to Wales and had their only child when Nerys was in her forties. Their daughter, Gwen, married Huw Ellis, and they in turn became Mair’s parents. Huw’s death at the beginning of the novel and the discovery of the shawl amongst his possession is what triggers Mair’s journey of discovery.
      Hope this helps best wishes, Rosie

  22. Hello Rosie. My late husband Neale Matheson says he knew you at Durham university. Is that true? He always spoke very highly of you.

    • Hello Sharon, I am sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I don’t think I knew your late husband; I didn’t go to Durham, so he must be thinking of someone else.
      Although, oddly, I do have a relative with the same name from three generations back. Quite a strange coincidence?

  23. Just finished The Kashmir Shawl — what a treasure. It is now one of my favorites of all time. You are amazing– I’m just one more reader who travelled with you to places I would never be brave enough venture. Thank you a hundred times over.

  24. Kashmir Shawl
    I have just completed this novel, to the detriment of my sleep and what I should have done.
    As a frequent visitor to India I found it evocative and exciting: the author’s experience of these areas shines through and all the characters are so believable.
    Thank you

  25. Hi Rosie – I have just re-read The Potter’s House, having first read it years ago. I have always been intrigued about whether the setting related to a real island? We live in Kas on the south coast of Turkey and often go to Kastellorizo (Meis), which sits practically outside our kitchen window – we walked up to the monastery on the top of the island recently, and I wondered again whether if the novel is set there. I’d be interested to know whether Halemni was inspired by any particular island or whether it is a combination of several.

    • Hello Jayne, thank you for getting in touch. How wonderful to live on that glorious south Turkey coast, and to visit Kastellorizo at will – are you yachtsmen? I am envious, sitting here in rainy January London!
      When I was researching The Potter’s House I spent a winter season on Tilos, just walking and reading and thinking, so if the book is based anywhere it’s there – although I’ve spent holidays on other islands (Lemnos, Santorini, Kos, Crete, Corfu etc) and they all contributed a bit to the fictional Halemni.
      Very best wishes to you. Enjoy your reading.

  26. Dear Rosie It is not often I feel like writing to an author, only the second time I’ve done so but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed (is that that the right word) ‘White’. I found the story and the evocation of place quite gripping. it has so much to say about obsession and various forms of passion. Like the best fiction it invites me the reader to reflect on my own life, not that I’m at all adventuresome. I can’t imagine being in such an inhospitable environment! Having said that I do know or know of several climbers, including one who was helicoptered off Everest. And I too have read Kashmir Shawl and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m glad that there are a few more titles to explore and get me out of my habit of rapid skim reading! With very best wishes Wendy

    • Dear Wendy, thank you so much for this lovely message, I’m so pleased you enjoyed WHITE. I did go out there on an expedition as part of my research – not to Everest itself, although I had already been to base camp on both the Nepalese and Tibetan sides, but to Cho Oyu, its very near neighbour and another 8000m peak. It was an experience I am glad to have had rather than to be having, if you see what I mean! Inhospitable environment is about it.
      Anyway – enjoy all your reading, and thank you for taking the trouble to write to an author. Best wishes to you.

  27. Just finished your book The Kashmir Shawl. Such a beautiful story, beautiful and poignant. I could not put it down and till the last page I was hoping Caroline would be re-united with Zahra… there was plenty of tragedy and sadness but mingled with much love and joy. Thank you for a beautiful book.

      • Absolutely no need to thank me. Once I started to read, I could not put it down and finished it in just 3 days! You must have really enjoyed your personal experience researching for the book. May I ask you, 1) which of your other titles you would recommend I read next and 2) what other book (by any author) have you been moved by that you would recommend?

  28. Just finished your book The Kashmir Shawl. Such a beautiful story, beautiful and poignant. I could not put it down and till the last page I was hoping Caroline would be re-united with Zahra… there was plenty of tragedy and sadness but mingled with much love and joy. Thank you for a beautiful book.

  29. hello! There are lots of other titles to choose from if Kashmir Shawl is the only one you have read. If you like exotic settings, maybe Iris and Ruby (Egypt) might appeal?
    As for books by other authors – there are thousands, of course. Most recently, I have loved and admired two novels by the American author Elizabeth Strout: one titled My Name is Lucy Barton, and the other Olive Kitteridge. They are really marvellous.
    Enjoy your reading!

    • Yes definitely Iris & Ruby a recommendation. Others that come to mind: Also Constance, Moon Island is very different – White about Himalayas /Everest, Sun at Midnight about Antartica – all evocative of their locations. And closer to home
      The Illusionist & Daughter of the House – totally different to any of the others!

      • Hi Ellie, interesting to read your comments, thank you very much.
        It’s important for a writer to explore different times and places and narrative styles, I think. Especially if you have had a career as long as mine! You can’t keep writing the same book over and over.

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