Born in Barnsley on 23 February 1964, she is the only child of a Glaswegian mother and Yorkshire father Terry, she has no siblings. She inherited her creativity and love of reading from her paternal grandparents who loved reading and the arts. Her grandfather was a miner, boxer and wrestler which brought her into contact with many of the wrestling ‘names’ of the 1970s and inspired a long-held interest in the sport. Her maternal grandfather worked on shipbuilding on the River Clyde.
She works from her office in her home in Barnsley, where she lives with her two children Terence and George, 'rahnd t'corner from her mam and dad.' She has made several television appearances, including BBC Breakfast and Keith Lemon's LemonAid where she was suspended above the audience for the whole show.
She was an avid reader and writer or stories from a very young age and was strongly influenced by the works of Enid Blyton, The Brontë sisters, Jane Austen and Catherine Cookson. She was educated at Agnes Road Primary School, Longcar Junior School and Hall Balk School for Girls. Her French teacher was Joanne Harris’s father Robert. An academic at school she was channelled down the route of University and studied Drama and teacher training at Exeter, St Lukes. But writing was always her first love and she left University and became a trainee accountant for a building society in order to procure a cheap mortgage so she could live in Haworth, West Yorkshire in the hope of inspiration from a local Bronte muse. She moved from office job to office job paying the mortgage by day whilst working on writing at night. She wrote jokes and poems for the greetings card market to supplement her income and became a ghost writer on Purple Ronnie in its earliest days. Later she was to become one of the country’s leading professional copywriters for the greetings card market.
She married in 1995 (divorced 2000) and had her first child in 1998, being pregnant at the same time as two of her best friends. When she sent off to an agent the idea for a book about three Yorkshire women who fall pregnant at the same time, based on her own experience of joining 'a club' of women in the know after having had babies, and the experiences derived from her parentcraft classes, she secured her first two-book deal with Simon and Schuster.
Her first novel, The Yorkshire Pudding Club was published in 2007 and launched her unique style of humour and heart onto the market. The book title did not translate well when it was launched abroad leading to many humorous alternative titles. Her second novel, The Birds and the Bees, was published in 2008 and is a tribute to her Scottish roots. It was longlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Award. The inspiration for A Spring Affair, published in 2009 came from the author filling a skip. A Summer Fling (published 2010) features a cross generational friendship between women who bond at work.
Johnson drew on her experience of workplace bullying in both the Spring and Summer books. Here Come the Girls followed in 2011 and celebrates Johnson’s love of cruising holidays. An Autumn Crush was released the same year and was shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan prize. Johnson was delighted by this as she and Nathan were friends until the latter’s untimely death in 2006. White Wedding was published in 2012 and entered the Sunday Times top ten best seller chart. A Winter Flame was also published in 2012 and again entered the Sunday Times best seller chart as did It’s Raining Men, published 2013, which won the 2014 Romantic Novelists’ Award for Comedy Romance. Johnson’s 2014 release, The Teashop on the Corner smashed all her previous sales records and, again, was in the Sunday Times top ten. Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe is her biggest seller to date, reaching 5 in the ST chart.
Johnson also released four shorter novellas exclusive to ebook: The Wedding Dress, a collection of short stories related to weddings (2012) and Here Come the Boys (2014) inspired by Johnson and her family missing a cruise ship two years previously. Ladies Who Launch was written in 2015 as both a sequel to Here Come The Boys and an introduction to Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe. She released the 16,000 short story ebook "The Barn on Half Moon Hill" in May 2016 to raise funds for the Care for Claire fund to raise monies for Claire Throssell, whose children were killed in a murder/suicide by their father.
Johnson’s style is humorous with a provincial delivery but she deals with issues instantly identifiable with women all over the world primarily friendship, love, children and the workplace and because of this she has a huge age range of readership. She writes often about women who had dreams and plans when younger but have been ground down by life and are in need of a renaissance ‘like I had’ she says. Johnson was sacked from an office job in 1990 for 'having an accent suited to the textile industry', an incident, she says, which made her determined that if she ever did manage to write a book, to set it in Yorkshire. Unlike standard ‘chicklit’ Johnson’s books address heavy issues such as domestic abuse, incest, alcoholism and bullying. Most of them are set in her home county but all feature strong Yorkshire women. Johnson’s male lead characters have received much acclaim.
‘Strong women need stronger men. Too many times in TV dramas I see formidable women teamed up with wimpy men as if the writers are afraid that the women would look weak, by comparison, if paired up with anything else.’
She favours a third person narrative structure which allows her to shift viewpoints. She has been particularly praised for her character development and her ability to ‘build worlds to which a reader wishes not only to escape, but to stay.'
Johnson’s books are published all over the world, in ebook and audio form.2014 – she won the Romantic Novelists’ Comedy Award for It’s Raining Men.*
2015 - she won the Yorkshire Society Award for Arts and Culture.*
2016 - she won the Romantic Novelists' Comedy Award for Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe.
She is a patron of the charities Yorkshire Cat Rescue and The Well, a wellbeing centre for cancer patients. And also Barnsley Youth Choir
She is active on Twitter as @millyjohnson and Facebook.The Wedding Dress (2012)
The Four Seasons Collection – a compilation of the Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter books (2013)
Here Come The Boys (2014)
Ladies Who Launch (2015)
The Barn on Half Moon Hill (2016)