Nick Hornby Biography

Teacher, Author, Screenwriter, Journalist (1957–)
Oscar nominee Nick Hornby is a British writer known for such novels as 'High Fidelity' and 'About a Boy' as well as screenplays for films like 'An Education' and 'Brooklyn.'


Nick Hornby was born in Surrey, England, in April 1957 and later attended Cambridge University. After graduating with a degree in English literature, Hornby worked as a teacher before his nonfiction writing launched a new career. Segueing into fiction, Hornby released his first novel, High Fidelity, to great success, and he followed it with another smash, About a Boy. Both books were made into films, extending their author's popularity to a whole new audience. Hornby has since produced several works of fiction and nonfiction and has also written several screenplays, receiving Oscar nods for An Education and Brooklyn.

Background and Early Years

Englishman Nick Hornby was born on April 17, 1957, in Redhill, Surrey. When he was 11, his parents divorced and he lived with his mother and sister. As a youth, Hornby was both an avid soccer fan, specifically of the Arsenal club, and an avid reader. He later took his love of books with him to Cambridge University, where he majored in English literature. (His love of soccer would later resurface as well.) It was at Cambridge that Hornby began exploring writing, and his work on various plays and screenplays absorbed all of his free time. Soon Hornby would begin writing prose works too, although it would be years before his efforts would reach the eyes of readers worldwide.

After graduating, Hornby studied further to become a teacher and worked jobs that sprung directly from his studies, teaching grade school and language classes. While still a teacher, Hornby began freelance journalism work, and he saw his writing published in such magazines as GQ and Time Out while also becoming a music writer for The New Yorker. From his early nonfiction efforts came Hornby’s first published collection of essays, and following hot on its heels came Fever Pitch (1992), which recounted the author’s obsessive love of Arsenal. Fever Pitch struck a chord with readers and became a surprise hit, spawning movie versions twice: once in 1997, with a screenplay penned by Hornby, and again in 2005.

'High Fidelity'

While Hornby garnered a lot of attention for Fever Pitch, it would be his first work of fiction, High Fidelity (1995), that landed him on the UK bestseller list. The film adaptation, starring John Cusack, was only a few years behind (2000) and became a modest box-office hit. A Broadway play followed in 2006. With High Fidelity, Hornby was becoming a household name, and his next book would only add to the effect.

Inspired by former students Hornby had from his classroom days, About a Boy was published in 1998 to rave reviews and oversized sales. It was also adapted into an even bigger hit film (starring Hugh Grant), after Robert DeNiro’s production company paid nearly $3 million for the rights to the book and signed Hornby on as executive producer. The movie grossed more than $130 million worldwide, and a TV series would follow more than a decade later. The book earned Hornby the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ E. M. Forster Award and the UK’s prestigious W.H. Smith Fiction Award.

Recent Works

Since the turn of the millennium, Hornby has released several more novels, including How to Be Good (2001), A Long Way Down (2005) and Juliet, Naked (2009). He also has kept busy on the nonfiction front, publishing collections such as 31 Songs (2003), The Polysyllabic Spree (2004), Housekeeping vs. the Dirt (2006), Shakespeare Wrote for Money (2008) and Ten Years in the Tub (2013). Hornby continued his screenplay work as well, receiving an Academy Award nomination for penning An Education (2009), starring Carey Mulligan.

More recently, Hornby’s novel Funny Girl (2014) took readers back to the 1960s, and his screenplay for the film Wild (2014) helped that film live up to its source material’s cult status. Hornby also penned the screenplay for the 2015 film Brooklyn, based on the novel by Colm Tóibín, and thus received the second Oscar nod of his career.

When not writing, Hornby stays involved with the TreeHouse School, a London organization for autistic children that he helped establish after seeking educational support for his eldest son, Danny. He also works with Ministry of Stories, a London-based creative writing and mentoring program for young people.

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