Joanne Harris: Changing The World One Story at a Time

Posted by on Jul 12, 2014

  “You don’t write because

someone sets assignments!

You write because you need to write,

or because you hope someone will listen

or because writing will mend something

broken inside you or

bring something back to life.” 

Blackberry Wine

Author Joanne Harris describes the Butterfly Effect of a story she once read in a dentist’s waiting room, which would help save lives decades later, half way across the world.

She  has always had a particular interest in the power of words, having been brought up with French as a first language among a Yorkshire family who spoke no French and a Breton family who spoke no English.  

She considers the inconsistencies in the ways we are taught to regard the power of words, and the power of story telling in our lives. She also shares shares the wisest thing she has ever been told.

Joanne achieved world wide recognition with her third novel, the award-winning Chocolat which translated into the hugely popular film starting Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. Since then, all her books have been best sellers in the UK.

Joanne Harris is a patron of the charities Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and Plan UK, and has travelled to Togo and to the Congo to report on their work. An account of her visit to the Congo was published in Writing on the Edge, a collection of essays by noted literary figures, with photographs by Tom Craig, in 2010. She has also donated short stories to a number of charity anthologies, notably Piggybank Kids, the Woodland Trust, the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition and Breast Cancer UK.

In 2013 she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. 


Stories featured in the following anthologies:

  • Magic (2002)A collection of stories in aid of Piggybank Kids.
  • Bosom Buddies (2003)A collection of stories in aid of Breast Cancer UK.
  • Journey to the Sea (2005)A collection of stories in aid of Piggybank Kids.
  • Mums – a Celebration of Motherhood (2006)A collection of stories in aid of Piggybank Kids.
  • Dads – a Celebration of Fatherhood (2007)A collection in aid of Piggybank Kids.
  • In Bed With… (2009)A collection of erotic stories by well-known female writers.
  • Because I am A Girl (2010)Charity anthology in aid of Plan UK.
  • Stories (2010) A collection of fantasy tales, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio.
  • Writing on the Edge (2010): A collection of eyewitness

Awards and Honours

Harris’ books are now published in over fifty countries and have won a number of UK and international awards, including:

  • Chocolat: Creative Freedom Award (2000); Whittaker Gold Award (2001). Shortlisted: Whitbread Novel of the Year Award (2000), Scripter Award (2001); film version nominated for 8 BAFTAs and 5 Oscars.[7] Whittaker Platinum Award(2012).
  • Blackberry Wine: 2000 Winner of both the Foreign and International categories of the Salon du Livre Gourmand (France).
  • Five Quarters of the Orange: Shortlisted: 2002 RNA Novel of the Year; Author of the Year 2002; WHSmith Award 2002 (UK).
  • The French Kitchen: (a cookbook with Fran Warde): 2005 Winner of the Golden Ladle for Best Recipe Book (softcover) in the World Food Media Awards.[8]
  • Gentlemen & Players: Shortlisted for the Edgar Award, 2007 (USA)[7] and the Grand Prix du Polar de Cognac (France).[9]
  • Flavours of Childhood: (a piece co-written for the Radio 4 series First Taste with poet Sean o’Brien) Winner of the Glenfiddich Award, 2006.[10]

In 2004, she was a judge for the Whitbread Prize (now the Costa), and in 2005, was a judge for the Orange Prize.[11]

In 2013 she was on the judging panel of the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science [12] and chaired the Desmond Elliott Prize.[13]

She is the holder of honorary doctorates in literature from the University of Huddersfield and the University of Sheffield, and is an Honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.


She works from a shed in her back garden [15] and is active on Twitter, where she is known as @joannechocolat, and tumblr, ( ) which she uses, along with her website’s message board, to answer questions from her fans. She is married, and lives in Yorkshire with her husband Kevin and daughter Anouchka.

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