Adam Thorpe Home
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Flight

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Voluntary

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Ulverton

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Still

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Pieces of Light

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Nineteen Twenty-one

No Telling

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The Rules of Perspective

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Between Each Breath

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The Standing Pool

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Hodd

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On Silbury Hill

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Missing Fay

About the author

Biography

Adam Thorpe was born in Paris in 1956, and began his professional career as a mime. He is the author of eleven novels, two collections of stories, six books of poetry and a work of non-fiction, as well as a stage play performed almost entirely in Berkshire dialect, many radio plays and broadcasts, including several BBC documentaries, and numerous reviews and articles for major newspapers and journals. His first novel, Ulverton (1992), now a Vintage Classic, received the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize and was described by John Fowles in the Guardian as 'the most interesting novel I have read these last years… Suddenly English lives again!'

His work has received widespread critical acclaim, and is translated into many languages. In 2007 he was shortlisted for prizes in three respective genres: the Forward Poetry Prize, the BBC National Short Story Award and the South Bank Show Award for the year's best novel (Between Each Breath). Hodd (Cape, 2009), a darker version of the Robin Hood legend in the form of a medieval document, was shortlisted for the inaugural Sir Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction in 2010. Thorpe’s first foray into non-fiction, On Silbury Hill (Little Toller, 2014), was chosen as Radio 4’s Book of the Week. His latest novel is Missing Fay (Cape, 2017), described as ‘a tour-de-force of depth and nuance’ by The Sunday Times. His most recent book, a memoir, is Notes from the Cévennes: half a lifetime in provincial France (Bloomsbury Continuum, 2018), described by William Boyd as ‘a marvellously astute, wry and affectionate account of France and the French -- mercifully free of whimsy’. A seventh poetry collection, Words from the Wall, is due out from Cape in March 2019.

Thorpe lives in France and currently teaches at the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Nîmes. His acclaimed translations of Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Zola’s Thérèse Raquin were published by Vintage Classics in 2011 and 2014 respectively.

‘Not only Britain’s most underrated writer, he is also among the most original.’
Eileen Battersby, (Irish Times)

‘There is no contemporary I admire more than Adam Thorpe…’
Hilary Mantel (Vogue, August 2014)

‘My favourite... English novel is by Adam Thorpe called Ulverton... a brilliant, very, very good and very unBritish novel... It's magic, a magic book.’
Karl Ove Knausgaard

Works

Poetry

Mornings in the Baltic (Secker and Warburg, 1988)
Meeting Montaigne (Secker and Warburg,1990)
From the Neanderthal (Jonathan Cape,1999)
Nine Lessons From the Dark (Cape, 2003)
Birds with a Broken Wing (Cape, 2007)
Voluntary (Cape, 2012)

Novels

Ulverton (Secker and Warburg, 1992)
Still (Secker and Warburg, 1995)
Pieces of Light (Cape, 1998)
Nineteen Twenty-One (Cape, 2001)
No Telling (Cape, 2003)
The Rules of Perspective (Cape, 2005)
Between Each Breath (Cape, 2007)
The Standing Pool (Cape, 2008)
Hodd (Cape, 2009)
Flight (Cape, 2012)
Missing Fay (Cape, 2017)

Short story collections

Shifts (Cape, 2000)
Is This the Way You Said? (Cape, 2006)

Non-fiction

On Silbury Hill (Little Toller, 2014)
Notes from the Cévennes: half a lifetime in provincial France (Bloomsbury Continuum, May 2018)

Dramas (selection)

The Fen Story (BBC Radio, 1991)
Offa's Daughter (BBC Radio, 1993)
Couch Grass and Ribbon (Watermill Theatre, 1996)
An Envied Place (BBC Radio, 2002)

Prizes and awards (selection)

1985 Eric Gregory Award, for poetry
1988 Whitbread Award, for poetry, shortlist, Mornings in the Baltic
1992 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, for regional literature, Ulverton
2007 Forward Poetry Prize, for Best Poetry Collection of the Year, shortlist, Birds with a Broken Wing
2010 Walter Scott Prize, for historical fiction, shortlist, Hodd