Patrick Gale

Patrick was born in 1962, on the Isle of Wight – the unplanned fourth child. His father was the governor of Camp Hill prison and subsequently Wandsworth prison, where Patrick remembers chatting to prisoners throught the windows of the mail-bag workshop and to trustees who were allowed to prune his mother’s rosebushes. Patrick’s mother too had spent much of her life on the periphery of prisons since her father was also a prison governor.

The family was musical and at the age of seven it was discovered that Patrick had a remarkable singing voice. He won a scholarship as one of Winchester Cathedral’s historic sixteen Quiristers. They were educated in the cathedral close, alongside the Cathedral’s Choristers, in rather archaic circumstances. At the age of thirteen he continued his musical studies as a day boy at Winchester College and his parents became stalwarts of the cathedral community. This ambivalent idyll provided ample material for his fourth novel, Facing the Tank. A keen singer still, he is closely involved with Richard Hickox’s cult summer festival at Saint Endellion.

His musical talents were further exercised with the cello and piano, but musical ambitions gave way to his obsession with getting an Equity card once he had spent most of his three years at Oxford neglecting his studies to appear alongside the likes of Hugh Grant and Imogen Stubbs in a variety of student productions. He was working as a singing waiter in a disastrous all-night restaurant when he completed his first novel, The Aerodynamics of Pork, on the back of his order pad. By the time his agent found a publisher for this novel, a second novel, Ease was finished so the two were published on the same day. By the time he was twenty-eight, Patrick had had seven novels published.

As well as writing and reviewing fiction, he has contributed to various anthologies; written for television; published a biography of Armistead Maupin; written a short history of the Dorchester Hotel and chapters on Mozart’s piano and mechanical music for H C Robbins Landon’s The Mozart Compendium. Apart from the writing and the music, Patrick is a dedicated bridge player. He lives with his partner, a farmer, in Cornwall, and is as relaxed harvesting cauliflowers as at the bridge table.

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