Julia Stuart is a bestselling novelist and an award-winning journalist. She grew up in the West Midlands, England, and studied French and Spanish. She lived for a period in France and Spain teaching English.
After studying journalism, she worked on regional newspapers for six years. In 1999 she won the periodicals category of the Amnesty International UK Media Awards. In the same year she became a feature writer for the Independent, where she worked for eight years, including for a period on the Independent on Sunday. In 2007 she relocated to Bahrain and Egypt for three years.
Her first novel, The Matchmaker of Périgord, was published in 2007. It is the story of a French barber whose business fails on account of his increasingly bald clients. In an attempt to make ends meet, he opens a matchmaking agency in his home village of Amour-Sur-Belle, whose feuding inhabitants subsequently find themselves on blind dates with each other. It was longlisted for Spread the Word: Books to Talk About 2008, a World Book Day award. Rat Pack Filmproduktion, which produced The Wave, have acquired the film rights. It has been adapted for screen by Andrew Birkin who wrote and directed The Cement Garden, based on the novel by Ian McEwan, for which he won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival.
In 2010 Julia published her second novel, Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo. It tells of a Beefeater whose marriage is in tatters following the loss of his son. Owner of the oldest tortoise in the world, Balthazar learns to love again by caring for the inhabitants of the Tower’s newly installed menagerie. It was published as The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise in America, where it became a New York Times bestseller, a national bestseller and an NRP Best Book of the Year.
Her next novel, The Pigeon Pie Mystery, was published in August 2012. The quirky Victorian mystery set in Hampton Court Palace tells of Mink, a headstrong Anglo-Indian princess, who sets out to save her maid from the hangman’s rope when the servant is suspected of poisoning the reviled Major-General Bagshot. It was selected as an Oprah.com Book of the Week, as well as one of its "Unputdownable Mysteries".
The Last Pearl Fisher of Scotland, Julia's next novel, will be published on August 25.