John King (author)

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For other people named John King, see John King (disambiguation).
John King
Born 1960
Slough, Berkshire
Occupation Novelist
Notable works The Football Factory, Headhunters, England Away, Human Punk, The Prison House, Skinheads

John King is an English novelist who has written a number of books which, for the most part, deal in the more rebellious elements driving England’s culture. His stories carry strong social and political undercurrents, and his debut The Football Factory, published in 1997, was an instant word-of-mouth success. It has sold more than 250,000 copies in the UK to date.

The Football Factory was subsequently turned into a play by Brighton Theatre Events, with German and Dutch adaptations following. A high-profile Football Factory film appeared in 2004. Directed by Nick Love and starring Danny Dyer, its DVD sales exceed 1.5million.

Two more novels – Headhunters (1998) and England Away (1999) – develop the themes of alienation and belonging to be found in The Football Factory.


King's fourth novel – Human Punk (2000) – is believed to be his most autobiographical. Set in and around Slough, the title is taken from a song by punk band The Ruts. White Trash (2002), which the author has described as 'a defence of the NHS', drew the following praise from Alan Sillitoe, author of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: 'Complete and unique, all stitched up and marvellous, the two sides of the equation brought together, realistic yet philosophical.' Skinheads (2008) is set in the same landscapes as Human Punk and White Trash, and while the three books feature different characters, they effectively combine to provide an overview of 40 years of British culture in a loose trilogy christened The Satellite Cycle.

The one novel of King's to be set entirely outside England – The Prison House (2004) – is considered his most mature work to date. Brian Keenan wrote: ‘With a brutal imagination The Prison House takes you to a place where angels fear to tread. Go there and be redeemed.’ An album based on the novel, written by King and Price guitarist Leigh Heggarty, and due to feature Dave Ruffy and Segs from The Ruts, has been reported.

In 2007, King set up independent publisher London Books with Martin Knight, and their London Classics series has established itself as a focal point for London's forgotten working-class tradition of writing. King remains with Jonathan Cape, an imprint of Random House, which has published all of his novels.




  • The Penalty (High Life Magazine, 2010)
  • Last Train Home (La Republicca, Italy, 2008)
  • Feelgood (with photographs by Jaimie MacDonald, 2005)
  • Bulldog Bobby (Verbal, 2002)
  • The Beasts of Marseilles (Fortune Hotel, Anthology, 1999)
  • Last Rites (Rovers Return, Anthology, 1998)


  • The Special Ones (London Books, Editor with Martin Knight, 2007)


  • May Day by John Sommerfield (London Classics edition, 2010)
  • Night and the City by Gerald Kersh (London Classics edition, 2007)
  • The Road To Los Angeles by John Fante (Rebel Inc, Canongate edition, 2000)
  • Hoolifan by Martin King and Martin Knight (Mainstream Publishing, 1999)

See also[edit]

Martin Knight, Alan Sillitoe, Irvine Welsh, Hubert Selby Jr, George Orwell, John Fante, Charles Bukowski, Alan Warner, David Peace


External links[edit]