Andrew O'Hagan

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Andrew O'Hagan
Andrew O'Hagan in 2009
Andrew O'Hagan in 2009
Born1968 (age 53–54)
Glasgow, Scotland, UK
OccupationNovelist, essayist
Alma materUniversity of Strathclyde
GenreFiction, Non-fiction, Essay, Play

Andrew O'Hagan FRSL (born 1968) is a Scottish novelist and non-fiction author. Three of his novels have been nominated for the Booker Prize for Fiction and he has won several awards, including the Los Angeles Times Book Award.

His most recent novel as of 2021 is Mayflies (2020), which won the Christopher Isherwood Prize.

Early life and education[edit]

O'Hagan was born in Glasgow city centre in 1968,[1][2] of Irish Catholic descent, and grew up in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire.[3] His mother was a school cleaner, his father worked as a joiner in Paisley, and he had four elder brothers.[1] His father was a violent alcoholic, and as a boy, he would hide books from his father under his bed.[4]

He attended St Winning's Primary then St Michael's Academy before studying at the University of Strathclyde,[3] the first in his family to reach tertiary education. He earned his BA (Honours) in English in 1990.[1]

Writing career[edit]

In 1991, O'Hagan joined the staff of the London Review of Books, where he worked for four years.[5]

In 1995, he published his first book, The Missing, which drew from his own childhood and explored the lives of people who have gone missing in Britain and the families left behind. The Missing was shortlisted for three literary awards: the Esquire Award, the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award, and the McVities Prize for Scottish Writer of the Year award.[2]

In 1999, his debut novel, Our Fathers was nominated for several awards, including the Booker Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Award and the International Dublin Literary Award. It won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize.[2]

In 2003, his next novel Personality, which has close similarities to the life of Lena Zavaroni, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. That same year, O'Hagan won the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.[6]

In 2006, his third novel, Be Near Me, was published by Faber and Faber and long-listed for that year's Booker Prize. It went on to win the Los Angeles Times's 2007 Prize for Fiction.[7] In 2008, he edited a new selection of Robert Burns's poems for Canongate Books, published as A Night Out with Robert Burns. A copy was lodged in every secondary school in Scotland. Following on from this, he wrote and presented a three-part film on Burns for the BBC, The World According to Robert Burns, first on 5 January 2009. In January 2011, Scotland on Sunday gave away 80,000 copies of the book. Also in 2008, Faber & Faber published O'Hagan's first non-fiction collection, The Atlantic Ocean: Essays on Britain and America, which was shortlisted for the 2008 Saltire Book of the Year Award.[8]

His 2010 novel, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe,[9] is told in the voice of a Scottish Maltese poodle ("Maf"), the name of the real dog given by Frank Sinatra to Marilyn Monroe in 1960. It was published by Faber & Faber in May 2010 and won O'Hagan a Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award.

In 2012, O'Hagan worked on a theatrical production about the crisis in British newspapers, entitled Enquirer, with the National Theatre of Scotland.[10]

In March 2014, O'Hagan wrote about his experience as a ghost-writer for Julian Assange's autobiography (published by Canongate and Alfred A. Knopf). His essay, entitled "Ghosting",[11] published in the London Review of Books, gained significant media attention because of his description of Assange's character and strained relationships with past and present colleagues.[12][13][14]

In 2015, O'Hagan published his fifth novel The Illuminations: A Novel, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize.[15]

In June 2016, the London Review of Books published a 35,612-word essay by O'Hagan, titled "The Satoshi Affair: Andrew O'Hagan on the many lives of Satoshi Nakamoto", which followed the events surrounding programmer Craig Wright's claim to be bitcoin founder, Satoshi Nakomoto.[16] In the article, O'Hagan, describes how he was approached by Wright and nTrust, a group that he was associated with, in order to cover the exposure of Craig Wright's identity as Satoshi. Though the article is inconclusive as to the true identity of Satoshi, some have taken it as evidence that Wright is a fraud.[17]

In October 2017, O'Hagan published The Secret Life: Three True Stories of the Digital Age that includes stories about his attempt to help Julian Assange write his memoirs, the author using the identity of a deceased man to make a new life on the Internet, and expanding on Craig Wright's claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto.[18]

In September 2020, O'Hagan published his sixth novel, Mayflies.[4]

His essays, reports and stories have appeared in London Review of Books, New York Review of Books, Granta, The Guardian and The New Yorker.[19]


Three of O'Hagan's books have received adaptations into different media. In 1996, Channel 4 Television presented Calling Bible John: Portrait of a Serial Killer, nominated for a BAFTA award.[2][20] In 2009, his novel Be Near Me was adapted by Ian McDiarmid for the Donmar Warehouse and the National Theatre of Scotland.

In September 2011, the National Theatre of Scotland presented The Missing as a play adapted by O'Hagan and directed by John Tiffany at Tramway, Glasgow.[21] The play received favourable reviews. The Daily Telegraph called it "a profound act of mourning and memory."[22] The Guardian called the work "an arresting, genre-defying work – part speculative memoir, part Orwellian social reportage" that "induces the kind of shock he [the author] must have experienced..."[23]

Other activities[edit]

In 2001, O'Hagan was named as a Goodwill Ambassador by the UK branch of UNICEF, and he has been involved in fundraising efforts for the organisation. He has travelled to the Sudan, India, Malawi and Mozambique and has joined fellow ambassadors Ewan McGregor, Ralph Fiennes, James Nesbitt, Martin Bell and Jemima Khan in campaigning for Unicef.[citation needed]

In 2008, O'Hagan was a visiting fellow in Creative Writing at Trinity College, Dublin.[citation needed]

In August 2017, O'Hagan gave a speech at The Edinburgh International Book Festival, where he declared that he had become a supporter of Scottish independence.[24]

As of September 2021, and since at least 2012, O'Hagan is a visiting professor of creative writing at King's College London.[25][26]

Recognition, awards and honours[edit]

O'Hagan was selected by the literary magazine Granta[27] for inclusion in their 2003 list of the top 20 young British novelists, and his novels have been translated into 15 languages.[19]

Book awards[edit]

Other honours and appointments[edit]

Selected works[edit]

Fiction books[edit]

Non-fiction books[edit]

  • The Missing, 1995
  • The Atlantic Ocean: Essays, 2008
  • The Secret Life: Three True Stories of the Digital Age, 2017

Other writings[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Andrew O'Hagan". University of Strathclyde. 27 June 2018. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Patten, Eve; Woodward, Guy. "Andrew O'Hagan". British Council. Retrieved 26 September 2021. [by] Dr Eve Patten, 2003 and Dr Guy Woodward, 2012
  3. ^ a b "Humanities English". University of Strathclyde. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b Adams, Tim (30 August 2020). "Andrew O'Hagan: 'If you are honest, you never stop being who you were'". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  5. ^ London Review of Books, Vol. 33 No. 12, 16 June 2011, pp. 23–28.
  6. ^ "E. M. Forster Award". Arts and Letters. Archived from the original on 6 November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  7. ^ "Los Angeles Times - Festival of Books". Festival of Books. Archived from the original on 16 January 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  8. ^ Flood, Alison (1 December 2008). "Scottish book of the year goes to Kieron Smith, Boy". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  9. ^ "St Marilyn: the canonisation of Monroe". The Guardian. London. 16 January 2003.
  10. ^ Brown, Mark (16 March 2012). "Scottish National Theatre to tackle 'crisis in newspaper journalism'". The Guardian. London.
  11. ^ a b O'Hagan, Andrew (6 March 2014). "Ghosting". London Review of Books. 36 (5): 5–26. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  12. ^ Sawer, Patrick (22 February 2014). "'Paranoid, vain and jealous' – the secret life of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  13. ^ Smith, Lewis (22 February 2014). "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is â mad, sad and badâ , claims ghost writer Andrew Oâ Hagan". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022.
  14. ^ ANI (22 February 2014). "Ghostwriter calls Assange 'mercurial character who could not bear his own secrets'". Business Standard.
  15. ^ "Books beginning with ILLUMINATIONS-BY-ANDREW-O%E2%80%99HAGAN | the Booker Prizes".
  16. ^ a b Nakamoto, Andrew O’Hagan on the many lives of Satoshi (30 June 2016). "The Satoshi Affair". London Review of Books. 38 (13): 7–28.
  17. ^ "There could be a lot of money in claiming to have invented Bitoin". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  18. ^ The Secret Life: Three True Stories of the Digital Age by Andrew O'Hagan Retrieved 12 October 2017
  19. ^ a b "O'Hagan, Andrew". A. P. Watt. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  20. ^ "Calling Bible John Portrait of a Serial Killer". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 23 January 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  21. ^ "The Missing". National Theatre of Scotland. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  22. ^ Crompton, Sarah (19 September 2011). "The Missing (Tramway review)". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  23. ^ Hickling, Alfred (18 September 2011). "The Missing – review". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  24. ^ "How Andrew O'Hagan, one of Scotland's leading writers, went from No to Yes". The National. 16 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  25. ^ "Home page". Andrew O'Hagan. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  26. ^ "O'Hagan, Professor Andrew". King's College London. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  27. ^ "A 'Granta' Glimpse at Rising British Writers".
  28. ^ Pineda, Dorany (17 April 2021). "Winners of the 2020 L.A. Times Book Prizes announced". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 April 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. ^ "Governance". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  30. ^ "Royal Society of Literature All Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Archived from the original on 5 March 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  31. ^ "Fiction Review: Run". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  32. ^ O’Hagan, Andrew (7 June 2018). "The Tower". London Review of Books. Retrieved 26 September 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]