Born in Manchester in 1959 and adopted into a family of Pentecostal evangelists, Jeanette Winterson studied at Oxford University. Her first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, was published in 1985 to tremendous acclaim, and she later adapted it for television. Since then she has written numerous novels, including Sexing the Cherry, The Passion, and Written on the Body. She has won several prizes including the Whitbread Prize, and the Prix d'argent at the Cannes Film Festival.

In an excerpt from her new memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, novelist Jeanette Winterson recounts how there were only six books in her childhood home—and how the forbidden ones she brought home were set on fire by her mother.