George, (Susan) Elizabeth

Born:  1949

Ohio connection: Birth


Many readers assume George is British, so accurate is her depiction of British life, but Susan Elizabeth George was born in Warren, Ohio, in 1949. When she was 18 months old, her father moved the family to the San Francisco Bay area, in part because he hated the Midwestern weather. Both parents early on instilled in George a love for the written word. She wrote her first novel, The Mystery of Horseshoe Lake, when she was 12. In the 1960s she became interested in British literature, and during a trip to London, fell in love with the city. Eventually, George purchased a flat in London and visits regularly, especially while researching her novels. In the 13 years George spent teaching high school English (1974-1987), she also earned an M.S. degree in counseling and psychology, and in 1981 she was honored as the Orange County Teacher of the Year. She was teaching a course on mystery novels in l983 when she began thinking of writing one herself, however her novel, Something to Hide, was not published but did introduce the four main characters at the center of her series. George left her teaching position in l987 when her novel A Great Deliverance was accepted for publication. Published in l988, the novel won the Anthony and Agatha Awards for best first novel, as well as Le Grande Prix de Litterature Policiere in France. George’s subsequent literary mysteries have continued to meet with commercial and critical success and have been translated into 13 languages. From the beginning, George’s primary concerns have been the psychology of her characters and the dynamics of dysfunctional family relationships, and she has focused on these issues ever more intently in each intricately-plotted mystery. The author of more than 25 books to includes young adult fiction and works of nonfiction, George keeps her hand in teaching. A longtime instructor of creative writing, she has taught at colleges, universities, writers’ retreats, and conferences internationally. She most recently taught a live online creative writing class for Hedgebrook Women’s Writers’ Retreat on Whidbey Island. George has edited two volumes of short stories, and is the executive chair of the Elizabeth George Foundation, which makes grants to poets, emerging playwrights, and unpublished novelists.

Award for teacher of the year, Orange County Department of Education, 1981; Anthony and Agatha awards for best first novel, both 1989, both for A Great Deliverance; Le Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, 1990; MIMI award (Germany), for Well-Schooled in Murder.