About Kiran Millwood-Hargrave

Find out about Kiran Millwood Hargrave, in the short bio below. 



Growing up, Kiran Millwood Hargrave loved to travel. She and her brother used to play games with their parents’ atlas – maybe it’s not a surprise she wrote a novel about a map-maker’s daughter! She has travelled to lots of exciting places. She says India is particularly important to her because it’s where her mother comes from, and where lots of her family still live, including her cousin Sabine, who was the inspiration for Isabella (source)! 

Kiran first got the idea for 'The Girl of Ink and Stars' whilst on a trip in the Canary Islands. The landscape of the volcanic islands and a book of myths from the area that she read whilst she was there inspired her, but it was a few years before she would write the story down. At that time, Kiran hadn’t thought of being a writer! It was only when she was in her twenties that she asked herself what she was really passionate about, and realised the answer was books. That was when she started working to become a writer (source).

Kiran’s first published writing was poetry. She studied for a Master’s degree in creative writing at the University of Oxford, and it was on that course that she started writing 'The Girl of Ink and Stars', her first novel. Kiran has now written several more books. Her second novel, 'The Island at the End of Everything' is about a girl whose island home is turned into a colony for people with leprosy (a harmful and infectious disease that mainly affects the skin). It won the Young Quills Historical Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award and the Blue Peter Book Award. Her third book 'The Way Past Winter', was Blackwell’s Book of the Year. It tells the story of Mila and her sisters journeying across an eternal winter to bring their brother home. 'A Secret of Birds and Bone' is set in Italy during a plague, and is about two children trying to find out what has happened to their mother. It was chosen as a book of the year by Waterstones, The Guardian, and The Big Issue.   

For older readers, Kiran has written 'The Deathless Girls', a retelling of Dracula which focuses on his brides, and, for adults, 'The Mercies', inspired by a storm and witch trials in the Norwegian town of Vardø in 1621. 'The Deathless Girls' was shortlisted for the Foyles Children’s Book of the Year Award, the YA Book Prize 2020, and the Diverse Book Awards 2020. 'The Mercies' was The Times Number 1 Bestseller and The Sunday Times Bestseller. She has another book for adults coming out in May 2022, 'The Dance Tree'. 

Kiran lives in Oxford with her husband Tom de Freston, who is an artist. They have created a book together called 'Julia and the Shark', about a girl called Julia who moves with her parents to an island where her mother is looking for a rare shark. 'Julia and the Shark' won the Waterstone’s Children’s Gift of the Year in 2021, and was shortlisted for Waterstone’s Book of the Year.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave