Ali Smith is a Scottish writer. Born in Inverness in 1962, the youngest of five children by seven years, she says, "I grew up completely alone but with all the comforts of knowing I had a cushioning family structure around me - and yet I could free myself from it."
After reading English at Aberdeen and nearly completing a PhD at Cambridge, she started down an academic path, winning a lectureship at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, but she soon decided that academia wasn't for her.
She gave herself three years in which to make it as a writer. By then she had moved from writing poems, for which she had discovered an aptitude aged eight, to short stories.
Her first collection, Free Love and Other Stories, was published in 1995.
Since then she has written novels, including How to Be Both, and The Accidental, as well as plays. Nominated three times for the Booker Prize, her fiction has won numerous literary awards including the Goldsmiths Award, the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, and the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.
Producer: Sarah Taylor.