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Meg Rosoff

Zoe Norfolk

"Children are endowed with rare and subtle talents. . . . [and] our faults are sometimes far more useful in life than our so-called ‘good’ qualities."--Meg Rosoff

Meg Rosoff was born in Boston and lives in London. She is the author of How I Live Now and Just In Case


My biography will prove incredibly inspiring to anyone who wasn’t born in Beijing or Kathmandu, wasn’t sent to school in Switzerland or Peru, didn’t marry a diplomat at 19, and doesn’t speak 9 languages.

I was born in Boston, in 1956, second of four sisters, grew up in the Boston suburbs, went to ordinary suburban schools for most of my youth, and was rejected from Princeton in 1974 so went to Harvard instead.

I didn’t like Harvard much, but Princeton would have been worse, though I didn’t know that then.

After three years of thinking ‘I’ve got to get out of here’, I applied to art school in London, was accepted for a year studying sculpture, packed a bag and got on a plane. I stayed in a bed and breakfast in Knightsbridge until I found a room in a flat in Camden Town, with an architect who later became my boyfriend. Art school was a disaster (I was obviously a writer not a sculptor, but I didn’t know that then, either) but the rest of the year was a revelation. There was an unbelievable amount of fun to be had in London in 1977-78. I’m still reeling.

Eventually I returned to the US to finish my degree, moved to New York City, spent ten short years working in publishing and advertising, and then one day quit my job, told all my friends I was going back to London for three months, and have been here ever since.

My husband is an English painter and my daughter is a mongrel with her heart in the American suburbs and the accent of a North London fishmonger. After a fifteen-year stint in advertising (which I recommend to no one) my youngest sister died of breast cancer. And I thought if I was going to write a book, I’d better do it soon because life is short.

So I did.


Dear Readers:

There’s a biography of me somewhere that says my ideal job would be head gardener of Regents Park in London. This is not entirely true.

My true ideal job would be Archbishop of Canterbury, despite the fact that I’m Jewish, an atheist, female, and American. My reasoning goes that, given a certain amount of power (and in the case of the church, a lot of land and a dwindling congregation) you could re-brand the institution and influence an awful lot of people for the better. (As Tom Lehrer once memorably said, “there are people who do not love their fellow man, and I hate people like that.”)

My husband thinks I’d make a lousy Archbishop of Canterbury, given my absence of patience, tact and basic spirituality, and he’s probably right. So I considered the next best way to obtain a captive audience, and wrote a book.

At the very beginning, I had the idea for an American heroine and an English family of eccentrics (there were originally six children, but the family became unmanageable), and thought about what would happen if their meeting took place at the start of a war set in the very near future. I printed out the lyrics to Talking Heads’ "Life During Wartime" from the computer and it helped me imagine the world I wanted to create. After one false start, I could barely keep up with the narrative in my head, and had a first draught ready in about three months — and this while I was working full time! I would come home from work and put my daughter to bed, fall asleep with her at 8, wake up around 10 and work till midnight or 1 am. I didn’t realize it at the time, but have since heard people talk about the once in a lifetime experience of writing a book that feels like taking dictation. Since How I Live Now, I’ve moved on to two other books and have found it much more of a long haul.

I wrote How I Live Now after my youngest sister died of cancer, and it’s a terrible sadness to me that she’s not around to read it. The book is about loss, and the urgent need for love. It’s about the fact that violence leads to more violence, and war to more war. That we’re responsible for the people we care about. That deep human connections can repair a lot of emotional damage. That children are endowed with rare and subtle talents. That our faults are sometimes far more useful in life than our so-called ‘good’ qualities.

And that, as my sister said once, just because life is hard, doesn’t mean it can’t be good.

Did I miss anything?

Oh yeah: Advertising. I worked in advertising for fifteen years and walked out the door the day my book advance came through. Now that was a great day.

That’s about it, except I hope you like the book. It would help me a lot if you did. Although I learned numerous invaluable lessons from fifteen years writing ads, writing books sure beats writing about soap powder.



“Rosoff’s narrative poise makes this a book for all ages. . . . A daring, wise and sensitive look at the complexities of being young in a world teetering on chaos, Rosoff’s poignant exploration of perseverance in the face of the unknown is a timely lesson for us all.”--People

Author Bookshelf

How I Live Now

By: Meg Rosoff

“Every war has turning points and every person too.”

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their...

Just In Case

By: Meg Rosoff

Justin Case is convinced fate has in for him.
And he's right.

After finding his younger brother teetering on the edge of his balcony, fifteen-year-old David Case realizes the fragility of life...

The Bride's Farewell

By: Meg Rosoff

On the morning of her wedding, Pell Ridley creeps out of bed in the dark, kisses her sisters goodbye and flees — determined to escape a future that offers nothing but hard work and sorrow. She takes the only thing that truly...

What I Was

By: Meg Rosoff

In 1962, a 16-year-old boy is dropped off by his father at a boarding school on the windswept coast of East Anglia. It is a model of its kind–the rooms are freezing, the food is disgusting, the older boys are sadistic, and...

There is No Dog

By: Meg Rosoff

Meet your unforgettable protagonist: God, who, as it turns out, is a 19-year-old boy living in the present-day and sharing an apartment with his long-suffering fifty-something personal assistant. Unfortunately...

Picture Me Gone

By: Meg Rosoff

Mila has an exceptional talent for reading a room--sensing hidden facts and unspoken emotions from clues that others overlook. . .

     So when her father's best friend,...

What I Was

By: Meg Rosoff

Read Meg Rosoff's posts on the Penguin Blog.

Finn was a beautiful orphan. H was a prep school misfit. On a September afternoon many years ago they met on a beach on the coast of England, near the ancient...

The Bride's Farewell

By: Meg Rosoff

Read Meg Rosoff's blogs and other content on the Penguin Community.

A tender and magical tale from an award-winning, international bestselling novelist

Pell Ridley, daughter of a good-for-nothing...

Just in Case

By: Meg Rosoff

David Case never questions his ordinary suburban life -- until one fateful day, a brush with death brings him face to face with his own mortality. Suddenly, everywhere he looks he sees catastrophe, disaster, the...

There Is No Dog

By: Meg Rosoff

What if God were a teenaged boy?

In the beginning, Bob created the heavens and the earth and the beasts of the field and the creatures of the sea, and twenty-five million other species (including lots...

Picture Me Gone

By: Meg Rosoff

Printz Award-winning author Meg Rosoff's latest novel is a gorgeous and unforgettable page-turner about the relationship between parents and children, love and loss. A National Book Award finalist!

Mila has an exceptional...