Jessica Townsend was born in Belfast into what she describes as "a nun-run home for pregnant teenagers". Among other things, she has worked in a bookshop, been a doctor’s wife, been writer in residence at Hampstead Theatre and the National Studio, been a radio reporter, a local newspaper reporter and worked for a think tank.
Her first produced play was for radio and she had two theatrical plays produced before going on to write for TV and film. She still works as a screenwriter but also directs, teaches at a film school and is embarking on her first novel.
Jessica returns to the Summer School after fifteen years to talk about Raising Patrick Doherty (1997), her irreverent comic radio drama in which a London-Irish family spend the run-up to their patriarch's burial destroying his reputation.