Ann Swinfen spent her childhood partly in England and partly on the east coast of America. She was educated at Somerville College, Oxford, where she read Classics and Mathematics and married a fellow undergraduate, the historian David Swinfen. While bringing up their five children and studying for a postgraduate MSc in Mathematics and a BA and PhD in English Literature, she had a variety of jobs, including university lecturer, translator, freelance journalist and software designer. She served for nine years on the governing council of the Open University and for five years worked as a manager and editor in the technical author division of an international computer company, but gave up her full-time job to concentrate on her writing, while continuing part-time university teaching in English Literature. In 1995 she founded Dundee Book Events, a voluntary organisation promoting books and authors to the general public.
Her first three novels, The Anniversary, The Travellers, and A Running Tide, all with a contemporary setting but also an historical resonance, were published by Random House, with translations into Dutch and German. The Testament of Mariam marked something of a departure. Set in the first century, it recounts, from an unusual perspective, one of the most famous and yet ambiguous stories in human history. At the same time it explores life under a foreign occupying force, in lands still torn by conflict to this day.
Her second historical novel, Flood, takes place in the fenlands of East Anglia during the seventeenth century, where the local people fought desperately to save their land from greedy and unscrupulous speculators. The second novel in the Fenland Series, Betrayal, continues the story of the search for legal redress and security for the embattled villagers. This Rough Ocean is a novel based on the real-life experiences of the Swinfen family during the 1640s, at the time of the English Civil War, when John Swynfen was imprisoned for opposing the killing of the king, and his wife Anne had to fight for the survival of her children and dependents.
Currently the author is working on two series. In the first, set in the late sixteenth century, a young Marrano physician is recruited as a code-breaker and spy in Walsingham’s secret service. In order, the books are: The Secret World of Christoval Alvarez, The Enterprise of England, The Portuguese Affair, Bartholomew Fair, Suffer the Little Children, Voyage to Muscovy and The Play’s the Thing.
The second series, Oxford Medieval Mysteries, is set in the fourteenth century and features bookseller Nicholas Elyot, a young widower with two small children, and his university friend Jordain Brinkylsworth. The first book is The Bookseller’s Tale, the second is The Novice’s Tale.
She now lives in Broughty Ferry, on the northeast coast of Scotland, with her husband, formerly vice-principal of the University of Dundee, and a rescue cat called Maxi.