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Nick Hornsby

Nick Hornsby

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: April 17, 1957 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Surrey, England, GB Profession: novelist, screenwriter, English teacher

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Both lightly whimsical and darkly melancholy, novelist and screenwriter Nick Hornby channeled his unyielding love for pop music and Arsenal football into a series of successful novels that often featured adult men struggling to grow up while refusing to let go of their obsessions - usually for pop music or Arsenal football. Though he carved out a niche as the writer of literature that focused on angst-ridden men, he also managed to fulfill a long-held ambition to write feature films. While his first novel, Fever Pitch, was adapted in both 1997 and 2005, the Americanized version of his second work, "High Fidelity" (2000), became something of a cult classic in the United States. But it was the adaptation of "About A Boy" (2002), starring Hugh Grant, that brought serious critical acclaim to a film based on his work and put Hornby on the public's radar. He continued to produce quality novels, including his most seminal book to date, How to Be Good, before he turned the tables and adapted the work of another author for the coming-of-age drama, "An Education" (2009), which earned him several award nominations and launched a second career as a successful screenwriter.Born on April 17, 1957 in Redhill,...

Both lightly whimsical and darkly melancholy, novelist and screenwriter Nick Hornby channeled his unyielding love for pop music and Arsenal football into a series of successful novels that often featured adult men struggling to grow up while refusing to let go of their obsessions - usually for pop music or Arsenal football. Though he carved out a niche as the writer of literature that focused on angst-ridden men, he also managed to fulfill a long-held ambition to write feature films. While his first novel, Fever Pitch, was adapted in both 1997 and 2005, the Americanized version of his second work, "High Fidelity" (2000), became something of a cult classic in the United States. But it was the adaptation of "About A Boy" (2002), starring Hugh Grant, that brought serious critical acclaim to a film based on his work and put Hornby on the public's radar. He continued to produce quality novels, including his most seminal book to date, How to Be Good, before he turned the tables and adapted the work of another author for the coming-of-age drama, "An Education" (2009), which earned him several award nominations and launched a second career as a successful screenwriter.

Born on April 17, 1957 in Redhill, Surrey, England, Hornby was raised in nearby Maidenhead by his father, Derek, a successful businessman, and his mother, Margaret, a secretary. When he was 11 years old, his father left the family for France, then America to go live with another family he had started in secret, leaving Hornby to be raised by his mother. Growing up in a fractured home and resentful of his father, he was eventually able to repair his relationship with the old man by bonding over football, which led to his obsession with the hard-luck underachievers from Arsenal as an adult. Following his education at Maidenhead Grammar School, the lower middle-class Hornby eventually found himself attending Jesus College at Cambridge University, where he studied literature and was overwhelmed by the overriding sense of certainty and entitlement of his fellow classmates; neither of which he even closely possessed. Also socially inept, Hornby found companionship with the idlers and football fanatics, while also delving into his other life's obsession: music. Following his graduation, he drifted to London, then back to Cambridge, all the while working up the courage to work at the popular magazine, New Musical Express, only to crumble under the weight of his own insecurities.

Hornby instead pursued his screenwriting ambition while teaching unruly students at a comprehensive school. After two years of being tossed about by his students, he quit to chase after his writing ambitions fulltime. But his plans of screenwriting stardom went awry, forcing him to take non-writing odd jobs to pay the bills. While his family sat by wondering what was to become of him, a depressed Hornby began seeing a therapist, where he began every session by making a joke about how well or not-so-well his Arsenal football team did the previous weekend. Eventually, he realized that he was seeking to express his own childhood resentment for his father, which later was partially repaired by their newfound relationship over football. This realization led to his first published novel, Fever Pitch (1992), an autobiographical collection of short essays about his obsession with Arsenal football that became a timely hit, while establishing his trademark style of fluent, informal whimsy tinged by an undercurrent of melancholy. For his efforts, Hornby won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year.

Hornby's life had a bit of an uptick following the success of Fever Pitch. He was married, had a son, Danny, and began work on his first work of fiction, High Fidelity, which focused on a young man-boy's obsession with his vast collection of music at the expense of everything else, including his romantic relationships. But when Danny was 18 months old, he lost his speech and was diagnosed with severe autism. Though he and his wife were inspired to join a group of like parents and start the TreeHouse School for Autistic Children, their marriage suffered and eventually ended in divorce. Meanwhile, his career was still on the rise with the first version of "Fever Pitch" (1997), which he adapted himself and starred Colin Firth as a fictional version of Hornby, whose entire life and romantic entanglements are filtered through his fanaticism for Arsenal football. Following the publishing of his third novel, About A Boy (1998), Hornby allowed an Americanized version of "High Fidelity" (2000) to be brought to the screen, which starred John Cusack as an obsessive record collector struggling to reconcile his adolescent love of pop music with the creeping realization that he has to grow up.

After winning the WH Smith Award for Fiction in 2002 for How to Be Good (2001), Hornby served as executive producer on "About A Boy" (2002), a slice-of-life dramatic comedy about a wealthy, carefree and entirely irresponsible Londoner (Hugh Grant) who invents an imaginary son in order to score women at single parent meetings, only to meet a troubled 12-year-old (Nicholas Hoult) with whom he forges a transformative bond. One of the best received adaptations of his work, the screenwriters earned several award nominations, including an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. The following year, he began a column called "Stuff I've Been Reading" for the San Francisco-based literary magazine, The Believer. Every month, Hornby detailed what books he bought and what books he read - which more often than not were completely different - while under strict orders from the editors to write only positive reviews. Filled both whimsy and insight, the articles were later compiled into three collections, The Polysyllabic Spree (2004), Housekeeping vs. The Dirt (2006) and Shakespeare Wrote for Money (2008). Hornby stopped writing the column in late 2008.

Following the publishing of A Long Way Down (2005), a dark comedic novel that centered on depression, suicide and New Year's Eve, Hornby was the executive producer of "Fever Pitch" (2005), the second adaptation of his first novel. In this Americanized version, Jimmy Fallon starred as an obsessed fan of the Boston Red Sox, who tries to balance his love of baseball with his romance to a workaholic business executive (Drew Barrymore). Meanwhile, "High Fidelity" was adapted as a stage musical in 2006 and eventually made its way from Boston to Broadway, where it ran for only 14 shows in 18 days. After writing his first young adult novel, Slam (2007), he adapted Lynn Barber's autobiographical memoir, "An Education" (2009), for the big screen. The coming-of-age drama focused on 16-year-old Jenny (Carey Mulligan), a smart, attractive London teenager from 1961 who grows tired of her adolescence and seeks the company of an older man, David (Peter Sarsgaard). With David, she becomes exposed to the more adult world of classical concerts, art exhibitions and late-night pubs, which may either become her downfall or allow her to grow. Emerging from the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, "An Education" was overwhelmingly hailed by critics while being nominated for numerous awards. Hornby had a thrill almost as good as Arsenal winning the FA Cup when he was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2010 Academy Awards.

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Milestones close milestones

1992:
Published <i>Fever Pitch,</i> an autobiographical collection of short essays about his obsession with Arsenal football; received William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award
:
Began publishing articles in the <i>Sunday Times</i>, <i>Time Out</i>, and the <i>Times Literary Supplement</i>
1995:
Published second book and first novel <i>High Fidelity</i>, which focused on a young man┬┐s obsession with his vast collection of music at the expense of everything else
1997:
Adapted novel into British feature film "Fever Pitch," starring Colin Firth as a fictional version of Hornby
1998:
Published third novel <i>About A Boy</i>, about an wealthy, irresponsible Londoner who befriends an adolescent from a single parent family while trying to meet women
2000:
Americanized version of "High Fidelity" adapted for the screen, directed by Stephen Frears and starring John Cusack
2001:
Published fourth novel <i>How to Be Good</i>
2002:
Executive produced feature adaptation "About A Boy," starring Hugh Grant and directed by brothers Chris and Paul Weitz
2003:
Wrote column titled "Stuff I've Been Reading" for San Francisco-based literary magazine <i>The Believer</i>
2005:
Published dark comedic novel that centered on depression, suicide, and New Year's Eve titled <i>A Long Way Down</i>
2005:
Executive produced U.S. adaptation of "Fever Pitch," starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore; story was changed for an American audience in that it centered around baseball; film directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly
2006:
<i>High Fidelity</i> inspired Boston stage musical, which had limited run on Broadway
2007:
Wrote first young adult novel <i>Slam</i>, about a 16-year-old skateboarder named Sam whose life changes drastically when his girlfriend gets pregnant
2009:
Adapted Lynn Barber's autobiographical memoir <i>An Education</i> for the big screen; earned Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay
2009:
Wrote novel <i>Juliet, Naked</i>, about a reclusive 1980s rock star who is forced out of isolation
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Education

University of Cambridge: Cambridge , England -
Maidenhead County Boys School: -

Bibliography close complete biography

"How to Be Good" Riverhead

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