Rose Tremain: ‘My father I hardly knew and my mother hardly bothered to get to know me’

The author on moonlighting as an agony aunt, a cat called Fluffy and Ben Fogle’s strong brown legs

Born in London, Tremain, 78, published her first novel, Sadler’s Birthday, in 1976. In 1989, Restoration was shortlisted for the Booker prize and went on to become a film and a play. Her awards include the 1999 Whitbread novel of the year for Music and Silence, and the 2008 Orange prize for fiction for The Road Home. Last year, she published her 16th novel, Lily. She lives in Norfolk with her husband, the biographer Richard Holmes, and has a daughter.

When were you happiest?
When I first met Richard, in 1992, on a British Council writers’ tour of Adelaide. We were drinking Australian lager while parakeets squawked rudely in the neighbourhood gumtrees.

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