"Hornby is a fine writer, swift and pointed, with a lighter, more mischievious
heart than he lets on, and more sympathy for the devil than he admits to."
- New York magazine
Name: Nick Hornby
Date of Birth: 17th April 1957
Place of Birth: Maidenhead, England
The Early Years
Nick Hornby was born in Maidenhead, England in April 1957. When he was 11, his parents divorced and his father began taking him to watch North London football (soccer) team, Arsenal, during their time together. Nick developed into an incredibly loyal supporter and his first novel, Fever Pitch, is essentially about this obsession. During this time, Nick also became an avid reader, absorbing a wide range of literature - paving the way for his future.
Nick went on to study English Literature at Jesus College, Cambridge University and during his time there became involved in writing stage plays, screenplays and radio plays in his spare time. It was around this time that a Professor introduced him to the novel Dinner at a Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler, which inspired him to become a writer himself.
The Road to Success
It is notoriously difficult to 'become a writer' and have anything approximating success. Nick worked several jobs after graduating - taught, gave English lessons, served as host for Samsung executives visiting the U.K. - before becoming a journalist. He wrote a pop culture column for the Independent and wrote about both books and sport for publications such as Esquire and the Sunday Times.
In 1992, Nick released his first book, Contemporary American Fiction - a collection of essays on American Writers such as Ann Beattie, Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff. That same year, he also released Fever Pitch, an autobiographical book about his life and especially his many years of supporting Arsenal football club.
Fever Pitch was a massive surprise hit. Off the back of great reviews it sold out it's first run. The world was now waiting for Nick's first foray into fiction with baited breath. It came in 1985 with the release of High Fidelity, the story of a record shop owner and his difficulty with keeping long-term relationships going. Set in North London, the book again received rave reviews and cemented Nick's reputation as one of the most exciting English writers currently working.
Nick followed the success of High Fidelity by writing the screenplay for a movie version of Fever Pitch. Released in 1997, the film starred Colin Firth as a schoolteacher struggling to maintain a relationship against the backdrop of Arsenal's first championship season in 18 years.
In 1998, Nick released About a Boy, the story of a 30-something man trying to retain his decadent youth while sustaining a friendship with Marcus, a preadolescent struggling to find his way despite a suicidal mother and bullying at school. Essentially a story about fear of settling down and relationships, the book was very warmly received and helped Nick win the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999.
The (American) Films
Released in 2000, with screenplay co-written by it's star John Cusack, and directed by Brit Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, The Grifters), the film stays very true to the original novel, despite being fully relocated from North London to Chicago. A huge success (critically and from the box office), the movie owes a lot of its undoubted charm to Nick Hornby's prose.
About a Boy
This was the big one. When Robert De Niro's Tribeca Films bought the rights to the book for $3 million, you could guess they weren't messing around. Thankfully leaving the setting of North London alone, the Weitz brothers (most famous for the American Pie films) set to work and the film was released in 2002. Hailed as the best Hornby adaptation to date, it featured Hugh Grant acting (shock! horror!) pretty well and not stuttering for once.
Back to the Writing
Nick's latest book, How to be Good, was released in 2002 and was met by fairly mixed reviews. Despite this, it won him Britain's prestigious W.H. Smith Fiction Award in 2002. I haven't read it, so that's all I can say really.
Nick Hornby has an autistic son and, along with his ex-wife, has set up Treehouse, a school for autistic children in London. In 2000, he edited a collection of short stories, Speaking with the Angel, to raise money for the school. The book includes writings by Colin Firth, Irvine Welsh, and Helen Fielding.
Nick is currently working on several screenplays, including a collaboration with Emma Thompson. He continues his journalism, writing for Time Out, the Sunday Times and is the pop music reviewer for the New Yorker. Nick is also set to release a book called Songbook. It is a collection of non-fiction essays about Nick's favourite songs and songwriters. It is to be released in hardback with an accompanying 11 track CD - proceeds will benefit Treehouse as well as other causes.
BOOKOGRAPHY (if only that were a word)
Contemporary American Fiction (1992)
Fever Pitch (1992)
High Fidelity (1995)
About a Boy (1998)
How to Be Good (2002)
the stupidly good imdb.com