About Nick

Nick Hornby picture

Born

Redhill, Surrey, 17th April 1957

Educated

Cambridge University (English)
Highbury (Football/Facts of Life)

Works and lives in

Highbury, North London

‘Every English writer needs their corner that is forever England – but only a few brave men choose to make that corner Highbury. Who would have thought the square mile around Arsenal’s stadium could be a suitable surrogate for the whole wide world?’

Zadie Smith, Time

Previous jobs

English teacher

TEFL teacher

Host for Samsung executives visiting the UK

Journalist

Pop Music Critic for the New Yorker

The Turning Point

I started by writing plays. They were sort of screen-cum-radio-cum-TV plays, and they weren’t very good … When I left university and I tried to write, everything came out sounding like bad essays, so I thought I should stick to dialogue. I hadn’t done enough reading – not of the things I wanted to emulate – so it took me a while, a long while, to grapple with voice … everything changed for me when I read Anne Tyler, Raymond Carver, Richard Ford, and Lorrie Moore, all in about ’86-’87 … voice, tone, simplicity, humour, soul … all of these things seemed to be missing from the contemporary English fiction I’d looked at, and I knew then what I wanted to do’

In the Beginning

Nick established himself as a journalist, with features published in the Sunday Times, Esquire, Elle, Vogue, GQ, Time Out, Time, the Literary Review and the Independent

Nick’s First

book was a collection of critical essays on American writers, entitled Contemporary American Fiction (1992)

The Big Books

Nick’s best-known books are the internationally bestselling novels High Fidelity, About A Boy, How To Be Good, A Long Way Down and Juliet, Naked. Nick’s non-fiction books include the football memoir Fever Pitch and The Complete Polysyllabic Spree, a collection of Nick’s essays on books and culture. He is also the author of Slam, which is vintage Hornby for teenagers. Find out more here.

The Movies

Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, About A Boy and A Long Way Down have all been made into successful, and much-loved, films, starring Colin Firth, John Cusak and Hugh Grant. Fever Pitch was also released as a movie in 2005 starring Drew Barrymore. Nick has also scripted the adaptation of Lynn Barber’s memoir ‘An Education’ as well as Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. Find out more here.

The Music

Nick is a huge pop music fan. Read the soundtrack of his life (and some of his New Yorker columns) in 31 Songs (2003)

The Charities

Treehouse

Speaking With The Angel (2000), a story collection which Nick edited and contributed to with his own ‘Nipplejesus’, benefits his eldest son Danny’s school Treehouse. The Treehouse Trust is a London-based charity, established in 1997 to provide an ‘educational Centre of Excellence’ for children with autism. It was set up by a group of parents (including Nick) whose children had recently been diagnosed with autism.

Ministry of Stories

The Ministry of Stories is a creative writing and mentoring centre for young people in east London. It uses storytelling to inspire young people aged between 8 and 18 to free their imagination, helping to build confidence, self-respect and communication.

The Prizes

1992 Fever Pitch won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award

1999 Nick was awarded the E M Forster Award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

2001 How To Be Good was longlisted for the Booker Prize and was named the UK’s favourite work of fiction at the WH Smith Book Awards (the only major UK book prize to be voted for by the public)

2002 31 Songs was shortlisted for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award in the USA

2003 Fellow authors, including Germaine Greer, Zadie Smith and Doris Lessing honoured Nick with the Writers’ Writer Award at the Orange Word International Writers Festival.

2005 A Long Way Down was shortlisted for the 2005 Whitbread Novel Award.

2006 A Long Way Down was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize.

2008 ALA Best Books for Young Adults, Slam

2012 British Sports Book Awards, Outstanding Contribution to Sports Writing

An Average Day

I have an office round the corner from my home. I arrive there between 9:30 and 10 a.m., smoke a lot, write in horrible little two-and-three sentence bursts, with five-minute breaks in between. Check for emails during each break, and get irritated if there aren’t any. Go home for lunch. If I’m picking up my son I leave at 3:30. If not, I stay till six. It’s all pretty grim! And so dull!