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Penelope Farmer was born in Kent, England, in 1939, the younger of twin girls. She was educated at private schools and Oxford University. Apart from brief spells of teaching and a variety of odd jobs she has spent most of her working life writing for children and adults. Charlotte Sometimes is her best-known book, and inspired the song of the same name by the rock group the Cure. She has two children and three grandchildren, and with her partner, a former academic biologist, divides her time between London and the Canary Islands.