Born 1961, in Edinburgh, Scotland.
British poet, playwright, and novelist.
Her mother was Scottish and her father was Nigerian. She was adopted by a white couple and brought up in Glasgow. Her adopted parents were communists who took their children on anti-apartheid protests and peace rallies.
She studied English at Stirling University.
She left Scotland partly because of her feeling that it lacked multi-cultural harmony and she wanted a more accepting environment for her son, Matthew, who was born in 1988. She moved to London and took various jobs including cleaning and hospital portering.
She has written for the stage, including for Gay Sweatshop. In 1985 she was commissioned by the Theatre of Black Women to write a half-hour play. After sending the draft to them they asked her to extend it to an hour, which she did. This was read at a public rehearsal under the title The Meeting Place during the Gay Sweatshop Times Ten Festival in 1985. Members of Gay Sweatshop subsequently worked on the play for four weeks to arrive at a more polished version called Chiaroscuro. Jackie Kay took it through many more drafts to reach the final version which was performed by the Theatre of Black Women in 1986 at the Soho Polytechnic in London.
Her next play, Twice Over, was first performed as a rehearsal reading at the Gay Sweatshop Times Twelve Festival in 1987. It was then performed at the Drill Hall in 1988, and taken on tour with packed-out performances in Sheffield, Bradford, and Bristol. Jill Posener also directed the play at the Theatre Rhinoceros in San Francisco, USA.
Her first collection of poetry, The Adoption Papers, was written between 1980 and 1990. It was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 1990 as part of the Drama Now series. The collection won the Saltire and Forward prizes.
Her second collection of poetry, Other Lovers, (1993), won a Somerset Maugham Award.
She has also written for television. Her Twice Through The Heart was a poetry documentary for BBC2 and became an English National Opera song cycle.
Jackie Kay lives in Manchester with another poet, Carol Ann Duffy.