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Two-woman show, Broadly Speaking, at the Edinburgh Festival 1986

Kitty Aldridge was born in Awali, Bahrain in 1962 to a Northumbrian mother and a West Midlands father. The family returned home to the UK when Kitty was a child, where she assumed the grazing herds of cows seen from train windows were modified camels. Her remaining childhood was spent initially in the West Midlands and subsequently in the south east of England, where at school she was taught to read and write solely in phonetics during the controversial ITA educational experiment that was implemented in a number of British state schools in the sixties. This later became the subject of her second novel, Cryers Hill (Cape 2007).

After getting to grips with traditional orthography at a boarding school in East Sussex, Kitty moved to London at seventeen, where she was variously employed as a waitress, shop assistant, coat-check girl, bar attendant, and front-desk receptionist at Peppermint Park and the newly-opened Coconut Grove.

At a friend’s party in 1979 she met a young actor, Phil Davis, who had recently made an impact in Barrie Keeffe’s play, Gotcha, and was in rehearsals for a new play, The Gorky Brigade by Nicholas Wright at the Royal Court Theatre. Encouraged and inspired by Phil, at eighteen Kitty joined the Royal Court Activists Youth Theatre and the National Youth Theatre, and subsequently began the rounds of auditions for drama schools.

Kitty trained for three years as an actor at Drama Centre London, waitressing, bar-tending and performing singing-telegrams during term breaks to pay the rent. After graduating in 1984 she paired up with fellow acting student Esther Freud, and together they wrote and performed a two-woman show, Broadly Speaking, in London’s pubs, bars and clubs, with a car-boot full of prop guns, K.P. nuts and a mirror-ball. They subsequently performed together at the Edinburgh Festival and not long afterwards their second show, I Didn’t Know Celery Could Kill You, booked a sold-out run at the Boulevard Theatre in London’s Soho, and led to an invitation to write and perform as a duo on Charlie Hanson’s Channel 4 TV comedy, The Management.

Kitty went on to work for fifteen years as an actor in film, theatre and T.V. After a stint working on screenplays she began, as a new mum in her thirties, to write fiction.

Her first novel, POP, was published by Jonathan Cape (Random House) in 2001. The film rights were sold the same year and Kitty was commissioned to co-write the screenplay. Richard Harris was cast to star in the eponymous lead role when, sadly, he died just before filming began in 2002.

Her second novel, Cryers Hill, was published by Cape (Random House) in 2007, and was described by the UK’s Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, as: ‘’A beautifully written, profoundly moving, observantly funny, deeply English novel by one of the most talented prose writers I have read in years.’’

Her short story, Arrivederci Les, won the Bridport Short Story Prize 2011. Her third novel, A Trick I Learned from Dead Men, was published by Cape in 2012 and was longlisted for the Guardian newspaper’s, Not The Booker Prize 2012. Her fourth novel, The Wisdom of Bones, was published by Corsair (Little, Brown) in 2019 and was a Sunday Times Paperback Choice 2020.

She is married with two children and two adult step-children, and holds a Creative Writing MA from Cambridge University. She is currently working on a fifth book.