William Boyd (writer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
William Boyd
William Boyd.jpg
Boyd in 2009
Born (1952-03-07) 7 March 1952 (age 62)
Accra, Gold Coast[1]
Occupation Novelist, screenwriter
Language English
Nationality British
Citizenship United Kingdom
Alma mater University of Nice,
University of Glasgow,
Jesus College, Oxford
Notable works A Good Man in Africa
Notable awards various


William Boyd, CBE (born 7 March 1952) is a British novelist and screenwriter.


Boyd was born in Accra, Ghana, and spent his early life in Ghana and Nigeria.[1] He was educated at Gordonstoun school; and then the University of Nice, France, the University of Glasgow, and finally Jesus College, Oxford.

Between 1980 and 1983 he was a lecturer in English at St Hilda's College, Oxford, and it was while he was there that his first novel, A Good Man in Africa (1981), was published.

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005.



Although his novels have been short-listed for major prizes, he has never had the same publicity as his contemporaries. Boyd was selected in 1983 as one of the 20 "Best of Young British Novelists" in a promotion run by Granta magazine and the Book Marketing Council.

Boyd's novels include: A Good Man in Africa, a study of a disaster-prone British diplomat operating in West Africa, for which he won the Whitbread Book award and Somerset Maugham Award in 1981; An Ice-Cream War, set against the background of the World War I campaigns in colonial East Africa, which won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and was nominated for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1982; Brazzaville Beach, published in 1991, which follows a female scientist researching chimpanzee behaviour in Africa; and Any Human Heart, written in the form of the journals of a fictitious twentieth century British writer, which was long-listed for the Booker Prize in 2002. Restless, the tale of a young woman who discovers that her mother had been recruited as a spy during World War II, was published in 2006 and won the Novel Award in the 2006 Costa Book Awards. Boyd published Waiting for Sunrise: A Novel in early 2012.[2]

Solo, the James Bond novel[edit]

On 11 April 2012 it was announced that Boyd would write the next James Bond novel.[3] Boyd says the book, Solo, is set in 1969. Jonathan Cape publish the book in the UK in September 2013.

Boyd used Bond creator Ian Fleming as a character in his novel Any Human Heart. Fleming recruits the book's protagonist, Logan Mountstuart, to naval intelligence during World War Two.[4]

Boyd has also worked with three of the actors who have portrayed Bond in the film series: Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.[5]


As a screenwriter Boyd has written a number of feature film and television productions. The feature films include: Scoop (1987), adapted from the Evelyn Waugh novel; Stars and Bars (1988), adapted from Boyd's own novel; Mister Johnson (1990), based on the 1939 novel by Joyce Cary; A Good Man in Africa (1994), also adapted from his own novel; and The Trench (1999) which he also directed. He was one of a number of writers who worked on Chaplin (1992). His television screenwriting credits include: Good and Bad at Games (1983), adapted from Boyd's short story about English public school life; Dutch Girls (1985); Armadillo (2001), adapted from his own novel; A Waste of Shame (2005) about Shakespeare; Any Human Heart (2010), adapted from his own novel; and Restless (2012), also adapted from his own novel.


In 1998, Boyd published Nat Tate: An American Artist 1928-1960, which presents the paintings and tragic biography of a supposed New York-based 1950s abstract expressionist painter named Nat Tate, who actually never existed and was, along with his paintings, a creation of Boyd's. When the book was initially published, it was not revealed that it was a work of fiction, and some were duped by the hoax; it was launched at a lavish party, with excerpts read by David Bowie (who was in on the joke), and a number of prominent members of the art world claimed to remember the artist. It caused quite a stir once the truth was revealed.[6]

The name "Nat Tate" is derived from the names of the two leading British art galleries: the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery.

Nat Tate also appears in Any Human Heart, also by Boyd, with a wry footnote to the 1998 book.


Boyd adapted two Anton Chekhov short stories—A Visit to Friends and My Life (The Story of a Provincial)[7]—to create the play Longing. The play, directed by Nina Raine, stars Jonathan Bailey, Tamsin Greig, Natasha Little, Eve Ponsonby, John Sessions and Catrin Stewart. Previews begin 28 February 2013; Press Night is 7 March 2013.[8][9] Boyd, who was theatre critic for the University of Glasgow in the 1970s and has many actor friends, refers to his ambition to write a play as finally getting "this monkey off my back."[9]




  • Bamboo; Hamish Hamilton, 2005


  • Longing, 2013 (based on two Anton Chekov stories)


  • School Ties; Hamish Hamilton, 1985

Uncollected short fiction[edit]


  • Against the Day[10]
  • Truelove at 29[11]

Literary prizes and awards[edit]


  1. ^ a b "William Boyd - Biography". williamboyd.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  2. ^ Kirby, A. J. (17 April 2012). "Waiting for Sunrise: A Novel". nyjournalofbooks.com. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  3. ^ "William Boyd to write new James Bond book". itv.com (ITV News). 2012-04-12. Retrieved 2012-04-13. 
  4. ^ Lang, Kirsty (27 December 2012). "James Bond author William Boyd on Restless, and the spy who thrilled him". Radio Times. 
  5. ^ "The name's Boyd. William Boyd: New author named for latest James Bond book". Daily Mail. 2012-04-12. Retrieved 2012-04-13. 
  6. ^ "Bowie and Boyd "hoax" art world". BBC. 1998-04-07. Retrieved 2007-03-11. 
  7. ^ Snetiker, Marc (4 January 2013). "Tamsin Greig and John Sessions to Lead William Boyd’s Longing in London". 
  8. ^ "Main Stage: Longing". 
  9. ^ a b Susie Mesure (16 December 2012). "William Boyd: The man who knows the real 007". The Independent. 
  10. ^ Boyd 2008, p. 4-5.
  11. ^ Boyd 2008, p. 5.


  • The Times Literary Supplement, "Edge of Armaggedon", August 2006,[1]
  • British Council, Arts, Contemporary Writers [2]
  • William Boyd, Penguin UK authors [3]
  • Stars and Bars, New York Times, 21 May 1983, "New Territory for Explorer in Fiction", Eleanor Blau [4]
  • The Guardian, 2 October 2004 "Brief Encounters" (William Boyd on the art of short story writing) [5]
  • The Telegraph, 17 October 2004 "Writers' Lives: William Boyd" [6]
  • The Observer, 3 October 2004, Fascination, "Too many tricks spoil the book" [7]
  • Prospect magazine, "A Short history of the short story" [8]
  • British Arts Council's emcompassculture [9]
  • The Observer, 3 September 2006, "My week: William Boyd"
  • Toronto Globe and Mail, Ben King interview, Profile of William Boyd, 2002 [10]
  • Financial Times, 14 February 2005, Arts & Style: "A soft spot for cinema" [11]
  • Guardian Unlimited, 12 September 1999, "Boyd's own story", The Trench [12]
  • Boyd, William (2008). The Dream Lover. 
  • Patten, E. (2005). William Boyd biography, British Council, Contemporary Writers.

External links[edit]