Susan Sellers

After a nomadic childhood, Susan Sellers ran away to Paris. Renting a chambre de bonne, she worked as a barmaid and tour guide, bluffed her way as a software translator and co-wrote a film script with a Hollywood screenwriter. She also became closely involved with leading French feminist writers and translated Hélène Cixous. From Paris she travelled to Swaziland, teaching English to tribal grandmothers, and to Peru, where she worked for a women’s aid agency.

A Professor of English and Related Literature at the University of St Andrews, Susan has written books on myth, literary and feminist theory and women’s fiction. In 2002 she won the Canongate Prize for New Writing, and is currently the holder of a ‘New Writing Partnership Escalator Talent Award’ and an Arts Council ‘Grant for the Arts’.

Susan’s debut novel, Vanessa and Virginia, is published by Two Ravens and Harcourt, New York. She is currently working on her second, set in the London art world. She lives near Cambridge with her husband, a composer, and their young son.

Susan’s website:

Susan Sellers is represented at Jenny Brown Associates by Jenny. For all enquiries contact

Books by Susan

Given the Choice by Susan Sellers

Given The Choice

Cillian Press, September 2014
Italy: Minimum Fax

At 39 Marian has a lot going for her. She’s talented, ambitious and married to a wealthy financier who adores her. She’s also capable of lying when the odds seem stacked up against her, but she’s a good deal more vulnerable than she lets on. Amidst the glamour and spin of the contemporary London art and classical music worlds, money rules and an artist’s skill is rarely enough. Marion’s top clients – a brilliant French painter and a virtuoso Estonian pianist – benefit from her entrepreneurial flair, but when her husband says it’s time they had a child, this contrary heroine faces a tough choice. Will Marion become ensnared in the web of deceit she has cast round herself? Or can she learn enough to save her business and her marriage? In this new novel by the award-winning author of Vanessa and Virginia, it is you, the reader, who is given the choice. Given the Choice is a book about growing older and growing up, about making choices and learning to live with them.


Vanessa and Virginia

Two Ravens Press (UK & Commonwealth), June 2008, 
Holland: Artemis
Russia : Atticus
Spain : Planeta
Sweden : Ordfront
Turkey : Sel
US & Canada : Harcourt (Spring 2009)

In a gloomy house in Hyde Park Gate two young girls are raised to be perfect ladies. But from the beginning Vanessa Bell and her sister Virginia Woolf pursue different dreams, and in their Bloomsbury household they create a ferment of free thinking and freer living. Devoted to each other, yet fiercely competitive, both sisters fight to realise their artistic vision amidst a chaos of desire, scandal, illness and war.

Traced with lyrical intensity, their entangled lives gradually reveal an underlying pattern. An expert on Woolf’s life and work, Susan Sellers is inspired by Woolf’s own brilliant narrative technique – a sensuous, impressionistic, interior voice – to inhabit the mind of an artist at work, and recreate the tale of two sisters as Vanessa might have told it. Vanessa and Virginia is a chronicle of love and revenge, madness, genius, and the compulsion to create beauty in the face of relentless difficulty and deep grief. Vanessa and Virginia is a beautiful, haunting novel about the love and the rivalry between two gifted sisters, and about the real purpose of ‘Art’ – not as superior diversion or intellectual entertainment, but as the means of healing and renewing the soul in the face of relentless difficulty and pain, and deep grief.

‘I can think of no other work that is as searching, or as revealing in its exploration of the family life, or of the complex dynamic of sibling and artistic rivalry of these two artists: the achievement here is not only a matter of research and imagination, but of an uncanny and utterly persuasive empathy for both sisters, and the world and times in which they lived and worked’ – John Burnside

‘Deftly, apparently effortlessly, Susan Sellers’s novel of love, art, and sexual jealousy gives us convincing and intimate access to the relationship between two remarkable sisters. At once pellucid and sophisticated, Vanessa and Virginia is quite simply a pleasure to read.’ – Robert Crawford