Home > About Louisa Young

Louisa Young was born into a big family.

Ancestors (if you believe everything you hear from magnificent old cousins) include

  • Ratcatchers
  • Pirates
  • Grand Postleniks of Wallachia
  • Admirals
  • Singers
  • The Rev Rosslyn Bruce, who took a seal around in his sidecar
  • Charlemagne
  • Robert the Bruce's brother
  • Darwin's cabin boy 
  • Phanariot Greeks in Constantinople 
  • Count Dracula
  • Mary Ann Chaworth who broke Byron's heart.

The family is English, Scottish, Irish, a quarter Australian and one thirty-second Greek.

One grandmother was a sculptor, widow of Captain Scott of the Antarctic, and mother of Sir Peter Scott the naturalist. The other one drowned, young, in Lake Geneva.

Both her grandfathers fought at Zeebrugge.

Her father, as well as her brother, four sisters and five cousins, and she, all grew up in the house where Peter Pan was written.


Louisa had a good education, which is just as well, as it has given a solid underpinning to her tendency towards passionate attachments to, in more or less this order:

  • The diplodocus
  • Sitting under pianos
  • Underwater
  • Boats
  • Moss
  • Centaurs
  • Piero della Francesca
  • Odysseus
  • Narnia
  • V-twin motorcycles
  • Rod Stewart: 1973 - no shame
  • Biba
  • Hard-boiled thrillers
  • Raymond Chandler
  • Raymond Carver
  • Johnny Cash
  • The Carlsbad Caverns
  • Belly dancing
  • Cairo
  • The origins of punctuation
  • The pre-biblical origins of country & western lyrics
  • La Boheme
  • Erroneous historical beliefs about the anatomy of the heart
  • Italian silver votives 
  • 19th-century circuses
  • Underground rivers (particularly the Tyburn)
  • The Ashanti
  • Roses: this is Mme Isaac Pereire 
  • And the ladies they are named after: this is also Mme Isaac Pereire
  • The 2nd Peloponnesian War
  • The early history of plastic reconstructive surgery
  • Ypres and Passchendaele
  • Miniature things - chairs and grand pianos, and vegetables
  • Rachmaninoff
  • Gnr Jack Ainsworth, 13695, Royal Field Artillery
  • Bette Davis
  • The history of spirit photography 


Her childhood she spent climbing trees and ruins with pockets full of almonds and Narnia books.

Her teenage years she spent mostly in love:

She read history at Trinity College, Cambridge, then lived in a squat for

seven years doing the kind of daft picturesque jobs writers are meant to do (dinnerlady at a parking meter factory, upright bass player in a busking band, person inside cartoon-animal suit in a New York department store) before learning to subedit in a pub on the Fulham Road and, fired by frustrated fury at having to rewrite other people's rubbish and correct their mistakes, became a journalist. 

She wrote for anyone who would have her before settling with the motorcycle magazine Bike, where she was contributing editor; the Guardian, where she wrote features and columns for many years, and Marie Claire, where she was for seven years lead feature writer, mostly covering eccentric aspects of US culture, such as born-again Christian gang bikers.

Here she is in Galveston, Texas, dressed and indeed made up by Mrs Idaho and her friend Mrs Ohio for the Mr and Mrs Perfect Couple of America Pageant 1985. Beside her is Mr Teen Texas 1979, who had just taught her how to stand: 'aim with ya HIP and ya TIT'.

Her first day on Fleet Street was the last day of hot-metal printing, so she was greeted by a banging-out ceremony, which was an omen. After a while on the Daily Express she ran away to drive across the US in a stupid car. In Nashville in 1988 she interviewed Johnny Cash. This turned out to be something of an epiphany

In 1993 she swapped her Harley-Davidson for a baby:

This is the baby’s father:

Louisa's first novel, Baby Love, was listed for the Orange Prize. Her first book was A Great Task of Happiness, the biography of her grandmother the sculptor.

Louisa Young's new novel, My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You, is about love and death and the origins of facial reconstructive surgery during the First World War. It is published by HarperCollins. The talented Dan Stevens, Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey, reads the audiobook

She is also half of the children's novelist Zizou Corder, author of the Lionboy trilogy, which is published in 36 languages. The other half is her daughter Isabel Adomakoh Young. Their last novel, Halo (Puffin, 2010) was shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Award, and nominated for a Carnegie Medal.

As Zizou, Louisa Young has worked a lot in schools, and was a schools' writer-in-residence through the charity First Story.

Her fiance was the composer Robert Lockhart who, between writing music for directors John Schlesinger, Peter Hall and Terence Davies, wrote music for the Lionboy books and My Dear I Wanted to Tell You. He died in January 2012.