Hollinghurst was born on 26 May 1954 in Stroud, Gloucestershire, the only child of James Hollinghurst, a bank manager, and his wife, Elizabeth. He attended Canford School in Dorset.
Hollinghurst read English at Magdalen College, Oxford, from 1972 to 1979, graduating with a BA in 1975, and a 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 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 College and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. 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.
Hollinghurst is gay. He 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."
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 one of my favorite living writers. He seems to be incapable of composing a dull sentence, and his insights into the smallest details of his characters’ gestures and behavior are so precise and revealing, they’re truly exhilarating. Although The Spell didn’t receive as much praise as his others--and is not “major” in the way of The Line of Beauty—it’s a charming, sexy, comedy of manners with something to admire on every page. Hollinghurst is a challenge for critics—an unquestionably brilliant novelist who writes about gay sex (among men) with unflinching, titillating honesty. Google John Updike’s review of this book for The New Yorker for an example of admiration mixed with extreme discomfort. --Stephen McCauley
I sometimes pull down from my shelves a favorite book that I had read years before—sometimes for enjoyment, sometimes to study an author’s technique. I recently had the joy of rediscovering Alan Hollinghurst’s “The Swimming-Pool Library”, about London’s underground gay community in the 1980s. When I first read the book in 1989 I was awed by the author’s prose style and his unabashed depiction of gay life. It was a marvelously sexy book and it was just as magnificent in my re-reading of it. --Jameson Currier
A perfectly rendered portrait of England in the 1980s and the rise of the new right, The Line of Beauty, a story about young gay Nick Guest and his social and sexual awakening, is harrowing stuff, since we know that tragedy lurks just around the corner for not only our naïve young-and often selfish-protagonist, but for a whole segment of society. --Rick R. Reed
The Line of Beauty shows how life has changed for gay men in the seventy years since Maurice was written. I came to this book having seen the TV adaptation and was mostly delighted. (The start and end are magnificent, even if I felt as I read the middle bit “Oh, not another sex/drugs scene”). Anyone who lived through yuppie excesses and Mrs Thatcher’s tenure of number ten will appreciate this book and the way it holds hypocrisy up to ridicule. Reader beware, though. Nick Guest is just about the only likeable character in the book – he’s adorable but the rest…*shrugs*. --Charlie Cochrane
Many folks may be more familiar with Hollinghurst´s Man Booker Prizewinning The Line of Beauty, but I prefer this earlier novel, The Swimming Pool Library. It explores many of the themes of the more famous book - 1980s London, the embattled British class system, cocaine, AIDS, race, and gay subculture - but with the freshness of the first look, the raw mad joy of discovery, and the recklessness of a supremely talented author establishing his voice. --Lee BenoitFurther Readings:
The Line of Beauty: A Novel by Alan Hollinghurst
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 2nd edition (September 15, 2005)
Amazon: The Line of Beauty: A Novel
THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER, WINNER OF THE 2004 MAN BOOKER PRIZE FOR FICTION, AND NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST
Winner of 2004’s Man Booker Prize for fiction and one of the most talked about books of the year, The Line of Beauty is a sweeping novel about class, sex, and money that brings Thatcher’s London alive.
A New York Times Bestseller (Extended) · A LA Times Bestseller List · A Book Sense National Bestseller · A Northern California Bestseller · A Sunday Times Bestseller List · A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
And chosen as one of the best books of 2004 by:
Entertainment Weekly · The Washington Post · The San Francisco Chronicle · The Seattle Times
Newsday · Salon.com · The Boston Globe · The New York Sun · The Miami Herald · The Dallas Morning News · San Jose Mercury News · Publishers Weekly
More Spotlights at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Lists/Gay Novels
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