Saturday, May 26, 2018

Happy Birthday to English Writer Alan Hollinghurst

Alan Hollinghurst FRSL was born today, May 26, in 1954. He is an English novelist, poet, short story writer, and translator. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 1989 Somerset Maugham Award, the 1994 James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the 2004 Booker Prize.

Hollinghurst was born in Stroud, Gloucestershire. He studied English at Magdalen College, Oxford, receiving a BA in 1975 and MLitt in 1979. His thesis was on the works of Ronald Firbank, E. M. Forster and L. P. Hartley, three gay writers. While at Oxford he shared a house with future poet laureate Andrew Motion, and was awarded the Newdigate Prize for poetry in 1974, a year before Motion.

In the late 1970s he became a lecturer at Magdalen College, and then at Somerville and at Corpus Christi. In 1981 he moved on to lecture at University College London, and in 1982 he joined The Times Literary Supplement, where he was the paper's deputy editor from 1985 to 1990.

He won the 2004 Man Booker Prize for The Line of Beauty. His next novel, The Stranger's Child, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2011.

Hollinghurst is an out gay man and currently lives in London. He lives alone, explaining: "I'm not at all easy to live with. I wish I could integrate writing into ordinary social life, but I don't seem to be able to. I could when I started [writing]. I suppose I had more energy then. Now I have to isolate myself for long periods."

His other novels include, The Swimming Pool Library (1988), The Folding Star (1994), The Spell (1998), and The Sparsholt Affair published last year. 

James Kirchick in the Daily Beast wrote about Hollinghurst recently:
Novelist Alan Hollinghurst is the literary bard of modern British gay life. His 1987 debut, The Swimming Pool Library, tells the story of a young gay aristocrat tasked with writing the biography of an elderly gay peer. Set immediately before the onset of the AIDS crisis— during “the last summer of its kind there was ever to be”—it reaches back in time to the years before World War I, when homosexuality was criminalized and necessarily secretive. The Folding Star, Hollinghurst’s next effort about a young Englishman teaching in Flanders who falls in love with his 17-year-old student, was described by the New York Review of Books as a “homosexual Lolita.” The Line of Beauty, which earned Hollinghurst the Booker Prize in 2004 and was faithfully adapted into a BBC miniseries, takes off at the point where the Swimming Pool Library ends, following a young Henry James scholar from the provinces lodging with the posh, London family of a Conservative MP elected in Margaret Thatcher’s 1983 landslide. Beautifully written and beguilingly told, its stand-out scene culminates at a party with our coked-up protagonist asking the Iron Lady for a spin on the dance floor.
In keeping with his gay perspective and intergenerational interest, Hollinghurst’s latest novel, The Sparsholt Affair, tracks the lives of a (mostly gay and male) set of characters across seven decades. 
See the full Daily Beast story here.

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