Jeanette Winterson was born on August 27, 1959 in Manchester, England. She was adopted as an infant and raised by John and Constance Winterson. They were extremely religious and raised Jeanette to be religious as well, hoping that she would grow up to become a missionary. Winterson credits much of her love of books and language to reading the King James Bible as a child and adolescent. Winterson knew that she was a lesbian from a young age, and at age 16 she left home because her parents were not accepting of her sexuality.
After leaving home, Winterson worked odd jobs, and eventually went on to study at Oxford University. In 1985, Winterson published her debut novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. The novel was very successful, and won the 1985 Whitbread Prize for a First Novel. Since then, Winterson has had a prolific and celebrated writing career. Many of her works of fiction have included elements of historical fiction, experimentation with genres, and undermining expectations around gender and sexuality. Winterson has also written essays and a memoir.
Winterson has won many literary prizes, and has been named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Winterson is also a professor in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of Manchester.