Edward Docx

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Edward Docx (born 1972[1]) is a British writer. His first novel, The Calligrapher was published in 2003. He is an associate editor of Prospect.


Docx was born in 1972, brought up in Hale, Cheshire, and educated at St Bede's College, Manchester, and Christ's College, Cambridge.[1] At Christ's he read English Literature[1] and was also president of the Junior Common Room[citation needed].

Docx is distantly related to the Partridge literary family through his maternal grandfather, Ralph Partridge, who was an officer in the British army.[2] His father is a specialist dentist,[3] and his mother was a bacteriologist turned music agent, and is Russian.[3] He is the eldest son of a family of seven children.[3] Edward has speculated that his unusual surname is a corruption of the Swiss town, Château D'Oex, and that the name is confined to his immediate family.[4] The name seems to be more common in Belgium with around 198 entries for Docx in Belgian whitepages,[5] and none in Swiss whitepages.[6]

Works and career[edit]

Edward Docx's first book, The Calligrapher (2003), was short-listed for both the William Saroyan prize[7] and the Guilford Prize. This was followed by Pravda (2007, entitled Self Help in the UK), which was long-listed for the Man-Booker Prize (2007)[8] and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize (2007). His latest book, The Devil’s Garden (2011), has not received any awards. Docx was short-listed for The George Orwell Prize in 2012,[9] and cited as one of the 21 most gifted young writers from around the world by The Hay Festival Committee (2008).[10]

Docx has contributed to several British and American newspapers and magazines. He has also worked on television and radio. Docx's plays include The Nose, commissioned by BBC based on Gogol’s short story, and ‘Bounce’ or 'The President's Dog', a screenplay in conjunction with Riley Productions.

Docx's work is often extremely well received by critics in the UK[11][12] and America.[13][14] But he also been described as 'hyperbolic'.[15]

Themes and style[edit]

Docx's novels are very different from one another in range, scope and subject. But all three deal broadly with antiphonal themes of masculinity and femininity, atheism and religious belief, love and exploitation, and all three are peopled with opposing moral and amoral characters who are uncertain actors in their own lives. His work is generally considered literary and though contemporary in tone and concern, it is evidently aware of both novelists and poets from the canon - explicitly so in the case of The Calligrapher, which centres on the poetry of John Donne. His style changes radically from novel to novel leading to comparisons with writers as diverse as Dickens,[11] Dostoyevsky[13] and Coetzee.[16] He has indicated in interviews that this is part of a deliberate attempt to avoid writing the same thing repeatedly and says that he sees himself as: 'an eager but embarrassingly substandard pupil on a creative writing course run by Tolstoy and Jane Austen."[17] He has made programmes and written on the cultural importance of literature and is a regular teacher of The Guardian's Masterclass series on fiction.[18]


External links[edit]