"Academics love to make theories about a body of work, but each book consumes the writer and is the sum of his or her world.""Always in my books, I like to throw that rogue element into a stable situation and then see what happens.""Anything outside marriage seems like freedom and excitement.""Art saved me; it got me through my depression and self-loathing, back to a place of innocence.""Confidence and superiority: It's the usual fundamentalist stuff: I've got the truth, and you haven't.""Creative work is incredibly difficult, and that is where the tests lie.""Everything in writing begins with language. Language begins with listening.""I am a writer who happens to love women. I am not a lesbian who happens to write.""I am not interested in genres. I am interested in doing the best work I can in whatever medium.""I believe in communication; books communicate ideas and make bridges between people.""I didn't mind being unpopular at school, because everyone else was a heathen.""I don't believe in happy endings.""I don't read reviews because by then it's too late - whatever anyone says, the book won't change. It is written.""I don't understand why people talk of art as a luxury when it's a mind-altering possibility.""I don't write for any group. I write to bring about a change in consciousness.""I had relationships with men as well as women. I wasn't choosing; I didn't think I had to.""I hate the word lesbian; it tells you nothing; its only purpose is to inflame.""I hated historical novels with fluttering cloaks.""I like to look at how people work together when they are put into stressful situations, when life stops being cozy.""I like to think the price I paid by being open about my private life helped.""I live alone, with cats, books, pictures, fresh vegetables to cook, the garden, the hens to feed.""I never cared about money.""I never wanted children. If I'd been deeply in love with a man and he'd wanted children, it would have been difficult.""I think heterosexuality and homosexuality are a kind of psychosis, and the truth is somewhere in the middle.""I think it would be very foolish not to take the irrational seriously.""I think people deceive themselves about themselves, particularly as they get older.""I think we still believe that ambition is for boys.""I wanted to cause trouble, but I know now it stays with you.""I wanted to invent myself as a fictional character. And I did, and it has caused a great deal of confusion.""I wanted to write a new fable and see how many rules you could break.""I'm not a quitter.""If we make anything that lasts, it outlives us.""If you continually write and read yourself as a fiction, you can change what's crushing you.""In my subconscious, my books were part of a single emotional journey.""It is helpful for a woman artist not to have a husband.""Life gives you enough hard knocks so it's unlikely you'll stay that sure of yourself.""London is a small place, and it is very incestuous. People know where you live. Everybody is sort of on top of each other.""Many people feel their outer self isn't the whole self.""My books always begin with a sentence and an image - not necessarily connected.""My characters are always on the outside; the spotlight's not on them. But they do get somewhere.""My friends and the people who are close to me know what I am. And that is enough.""Naked is the best disguise.""Nobody knows anything about Shakespeare the person. It's all legend, it is all rumor.""One room is always enough for one person. Two rooms is not enough for two people. That is one of the conundrums in life.""Ordinary professionalism and 20 years' experience can accomplish a lot, but it can't access the hidden places.""Quest is at the heart of what I do-the holy grail, and the terror that you'll never find it, seemed a perfect metaphor for life.""The curious are always in some danger. If you are curious you might never come home.""The work that lasts over time is the work which still speaks to us when all contemporary interest in that work is extinct.""There are so many separate selves; no one who writes creatively hasn't felt that.""They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the wonder of it?""To create a past that seemed authentic but would be a fiction, you need an invented language.""To me, life, for all its privations, is a luminous thing. You have to risk it.""We shall all die, and our lives will be irrelevant then.""What you risk reveals what you value.""What's invisible to us is also crucial for our own well-being.""Whatever is powerful to you can be translated into something which will matter to somebody that you will never know.""When it is time to get to work, I go away completely and don't do anything except the work. And that can be 16 hours a day.""Whether you want to call it God or the mystery of the cosmos doesn't matter to me.""With animal behavior, they're all fine until you introduce some rogue element into the cage, and then they go crazy.""Writers have to have a knack for listening. I need to be able to hear what is being said to me by the voices I create.""You never give away your heart; you lend it from time to time. If it were not so, how could we take it back without asking?""You play. You win. You play. You lose. You play.""Your weak point is the open, vulnerable place where you can always be hurt. Love, in all its aspects, opens the self so fully."
Winterson was born in Manchester and raised in Accrington, Lancashire, by adoptive parents Constance and John William Winterson. She was raised in the Elim Pentecostal Church and, intending to become a Pentecostal Christian missionary, she began evangelising and writing sermons at age six.
However by age 16 Winterson declared she was lesbian and left home. She soon after attended Accrington and Rossendale College and supported herself at a variety of odd jobs while reading for a degree in English at St Catherine's College, Oxford.
After moving to London, her first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, was published when she was 26 years old. It won the 1985 Whitbread Prize for a First Novel, and was adapted for television by Winterson in 1990, which in turn won the BAFTA Award for Best Drama. She won the 1987 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for The Passion, a novel set in Napoleonic Europe.
Winterson's subsequent novels explore the boundaries of physicality and the imagination, gender polarities, and sexual identities, and have won several literary awards. Her stage adaptation of The PowerBook in 2002 opened at the Royal National Theatre, London. She also bought a derelict terraced house in Spitalfields, east London, which she refurbished into a flat as a pied-a-terre and a ground-floor shop, Verde's, to sell organic food.
Winterson was made an officer of Order of the British Empire (OBE) at the 2006 New Year Honours.
In 2009, she donated the short story Dog Days to Oxfam's Ox-Tales project comprising four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Winterson's story was published in the Fire collection.
In 2002, Winterson ended her 12-year relationship with BBC radio broadcaster and academic, Peggy Reynolds. Her novel Written on the Body was inspired by her affair with Pat Kavanagh, her literary agent.