Biography

Joan Smith is a novelist, essayist, columnist and campaigner for human rights. She was Co-Chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Board from 2013-2021, and is a former Chair of the English PEN Writers in Prison Committee. Her latest book is Home Grown: How Domestic Violence Turns Men Into Terrorists (riverrun, 2019).

Smith has published six novels, including the Loretta Lawson series of crime novels and a thriller, What Will Survive. Two of her Loretta Lawson novels have been filmed by the BBC. Her non-fiction includes includes Misogynies, Moralities, Hungry For You and The Public Woman. In 2014, Woman’s Hour devoted a programme to the 25th anniversary of  the publication of Misogynies.

Smith has written columns for many national newspapers including The Times, Guardian, New York TimesDaily Telegraph and Independent titles, as well as a long-running column for Tribune. She blogs regularly for the Telegraph.

She delivered the inaugural Edith Morley Lecture at Reading University (which she attended from 1971-74) in 2014, and the Jane Grigson Memorial Lecture at the 2013 Oxford Food Symposium. She was a judge of the Saif Ghobash-Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation 2011, the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2012, and has previously judged the Amnesty International media awards.

Smith gave evidence to Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into the culture and ethics of the press in November 2011, describing how her mobile phone was hacked by the News of the World in 2004. She accepted damages from the NoW‘s parents company, News UK (formerly News International), in January 2012. From June 2014 to June 2015 she was executive director of the phone hacking campaign, Hacked Off.

She returned to the board of ALCS (the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society) in January 2017, having previously served as a non-executive director from 2010 to 2015.  From 2010 to 2012 she was President of the Creators’ Rights Alliance, an umbrella organisation which represents more than 100,000 individual creators.

She chaired Labour Humanists from 2016 to 2018, is an honorary associate of the National Secular Society and a patron of Humanists UK. She supports Republic, the campaign for an elected head of state, and delivered the John Campbell memorial lecture in 2017.

From 2002 to 2005 she was adjunct associate professor at Edith Cowan University, Western Australia. She has campaigned for modernisation of the honours system and turned down an MBE in 2003.

Joan Smith lives in London.