Born Claire Delavenay in London, she was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge.
She became literary editor of the ‘New Statesman’ and the ‘Sunday Times’. She has written several noted biographies and her work has been recognized with the award of the 1990 James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the 1991 Hawthornden Prize for ‘The Invisible Woman The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens’.
In addition, her biography of Samuel Pepys won the Whitbread Book Award in 2002, the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize in 2003, the Latham Prize of the Samuel Pepys Club in 2003, and was also shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2003.
She married her first husband, Nicholas Tomalin, who was a prominent journalist but who was killed in the Arab Israeli Yom Kippur War in 1973. Her second husband is the novelist and playwright Michael Frayn.
She is Vice-President of the Royal Society of Literature and of the English PEN (International PEN).
Author website: http://www.clairetomalin.com/
Books in order of publication:
The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1974), 1992
Shelley and His World (London, Thames and Hudson, 1980)
The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (London, Viking, 1990) (New York, Knopf, 1991)
Mrs. Jordan’s Profession: The Story of a Great Actress and a Future King, 1995
Katherine Mansfield: A Secret Life (London, Viking, 1987), 1998
Several Strangers; writing from three decades (London, Viking Books, 1999)
Jane Austen: A Life (Vintage eBooks, 2000)
Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self, (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2002)
Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man (New York, Penguin Press, 2007)
Charles Dickens: A Life (New York, Penguin Books, 2011).
A Life of My Own (London, Penguin Books, 2017).
The Young H. G. Wells: Changing the World (New York, Penguin Books, 2021)