Born in Dublin in 1930, Jennifer Johnston studied at Trinity College, Dublin.
Her novels include The Captains and the Kings (1972), The Gates (1973), How Many Miles to Babylon? (1974), The Christmas Tree (1981), The Railway Station Man (1984), Fools’ Sanctuary (1987), The Invisible Worm (1991), The Illusionist (1995), Two Moons (1998) and The Gingerbread Woman (2000). In 1977, Shadows on our Skin was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and in 1979, she won the Whitbread Award for The Old Jest, which was later made into a film starring Anthony Hopkins. In 2002, she published This Is Not a Novel and Grace and Truth in 2004.
Her plays include The Nightingale Not the Lark, which was published with The Porch and The Invisible Man in 1988, and O Ananias Azarias and Misael, which won the Giles Cooper Award, the British award for best radio play of the year, in 1989. Other plays include Moonlight and Music (2000) and Desert Lullaby (1996).
Her novels have been translated into several languages, and all of them into French. She has also received the Robert Pitman Award and the Yorkshire Post Award. She lives in Derry.