She has written a number of short stories for magazines. After winning a magazine competition, she started work on a children's novel, but it took persistent prodding from a friend before it ever made it to a publisher. That novel, Fly By Night, was inspired by her childhood home and village - a big, old house in Kent, England. First published in 2005 in England, her debut novel went on to receive the Branford Boase Award in 2006, among others. Ms Hardinge followed up with Verdigris Deep, published in 2007. She is now working on a third stand-alone novel, which is said to have volcanoes heavily involved within it, as well as a sequel to Fly By Night.
She studied English at Oxford University, then worked as a technical writer and graphic designer, writing fiction only during her spare time. It wasn't until after publication of Fly By Night that she moved to writing full-time.
Frances Hardinge is rarely seen without her infamous black hat, and tends to wear only black clothing. For fun, she and her friends like to dress up in old-fashioned clothes, and hold murder mystery parties, and stage duels in stately homes.
Ms Hardinge now lives part-time in Oxford, and part-time in London with her boyfriend.