Charlotte Keatley was born in London on 5 January 1960. Her first play, My Mother Said I Never Should, which she wrote in 1985, was first performed at the Contact Theatre, Manchester, in 1987, and won both the Royal Court/George Devine Award and the Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Best New Play. The play was revised for a successful run at the Royal Court Theatre in 1989, and in 1990 she was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Most Promising Newcomer Award. She was Judith E. Wilson Fellow in English at Cambridge University in 1989 and Writer in Residence for the New York Stage and Film Company in 1991. Later that year she co-directed the first production of Heathcote Williams' play Autogeddon at the Edinburgh Festival, where it was awarded an Edinburgh Festival Fringe First.