Joanne Jowell matriculated in Johannesburg as Head Girl of King David High School Linksfield and went on to study English and Psychology at the University of Cape Town (UCT) where she graduated summa cum laude with an Honours degree in Clinical Psychology.
After working in Management Consulting for a few hyper-productive years, she returned to her first love – writing – when facing her own identity crisis as a modern 20-something. Her first book, Managing the Quarterlife Crisis: facing life’s choices in your 20s and 30s, was published by Struik in 2003.
Joanne completed her Masters degree in Creative Writing at UCT and went on to publish On the other side of shame: an extraordinary account of adoption and reunion – a national bestseller published by Macmillan in 2008, and the book which crafted a biographical storytelling style which Joanne would further explore in Finding Sarah: a true story of living with bulimia. Joanne’s next book – The crazy life of Larry Joe: a journey on the streets and stage – took her deep into the life of a reformed gangster, now musician.
In 2018, her book Winging It: Jonathan Kaplan’s journey from world-class ref to rookie solo dad – examined a single father’s journey to parenting by surrogacy. Simply titled Zephany, Joanne’s sixth book is the sensational local story about the discovery of long-lost Zephany Nurse, the newborn baby abducted in 1997 from Groote Schuur hospital.
Joanne is fascinated by the creative interpretation of ‘truth’ in memoir and sees biography as the perfect blend between her two areas of interest – psychology and creative writing. She lives in Cape Town with her husband, sons and other members of the animal kingdom.
“Seldom does a week go by that I don’t reference my school days at King David – surely more so now that I have my own kids and am back in the rumble of school life, but even before that. I attended KD Linksfield from the final year of nursery school until Matric, and it is as much a part of me as it ever was. It’s where I formed and solidified my Jewish identity, made lifelong friendships, learned to count, read, write, sing, giggle, blush, speak in public, think for myself. While I remember and still value many of my teachers, my principal Elliot Wolf and Latin teacher, the late Dr Elena Thomas (“Doc”) hold the brightest spots in the firmament – the type of teachers you quote long after you’ve matriculated; the type of teachers you hope your own kids will be lucky enough to encounter in their lives; the type of educators who impart so much more than subject matter; and the type whose wise counsel, unique perspectives and peculiar idiosyncrasies you miss long after your school days are done.”