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Jamila was born in Mussoorie (Bombay), India, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Her Indian father and English mother met as teachers in Iran and by the age of eleven she had lived in an Indian palace in the Punjab, a flat in a bombed out street in Shepherd's Bush, a bungalow in Poona, near Mumbai and a terraced house in Ealing. She settled into a little town cottage in Stroud, Gloucestershire twenty five years ago but she still loves to travel. Her books have included "Grandpa Chatterji", which was short-listed for the Smarties Award and was dramatised for television on Channel 4 Schools, "Monkey in the Stars" which she then dramatised for a commission by the Polka Theatre, where it was performed in the autumn 2000 and "The Surya Trilogy" of which the first, "The Wheel of Surya", was special runner up for the Guardian Children's Fiction Award in 1992, while the others were subsequently all shortlisted for the same award. Her novel, "Coram Boy", set in 18th century England, won the 2000 Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award and was made into a successful stage play at the National Theatre. Coram Boy was later dramatized by Jamila for Radio 4's Classic Serial programme in 2008. Her first radio play, "The God at the Gate", broadcast as Play for Today on Radio 4 in September 2001, was shortlisted for the Richard Imison Award. She also wrote "The Robber Baron's Daughter", published in August 2008.