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Jennifer Dawson 1929 - 2000


Jennifer Dawson was born and brought up in Kennington and Camberwell, South London with her three sisters and one brother. She was educated at Mary Datchelor School in Camberwell.






Download Jennifer Dawson's autobiographical piece about her childhood in South London:

Jennifer read History at St Anne's College, Oxford. During her time at Oxford University she suffered a breakdown and spent several months in the Warneford Hospital, Oxford.


After graduating in 1954, Jennifer worked variously as a teacher in a convent in Laval, France, as a subeditor and indexer for the Clarendon Press and Oxford University Press on two encyclopaedias and the supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary, as a welfare worker in London's East End and as a social worker in a psychiatric hospital in Worcester. In 1959 she was awarded the Dawes Hicks Scholarship for Philosophy to study at University College, London.


Jennifer marched in the ground-breaking Aldermaston marches organised by the emerging Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the late 1950s and early 1960s. She met her husband Michael Hinton, an Oxford philosophy don, on the 1963 Aldermaston march.


Jennifer's experience as a mental health professional and as a patient formed the basis for her critically acclaimed 1961 debut novel "The Ha-Ha" which explores a young woman's experience of schizophrenia and the mental health care system.


Jennifer and her husband lived for many years in Charlbury near Oxford.


An Obituary for Jennifer Dawson by Polly Patullo and Elizabeth Mitchell was published in The Guardian on 26 October 2000.



"I wanted the knack of existing. I did not know the rules." 


A celebration of the life and work of the British writer Jennifer Dawson


JD contact sheet 2 lr

Photos by Tara Heinemann

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