Douglas Stuart (writer)

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Douglas Stuart
Stuart in 2021
Born (1976-05-31) 31 May 1976 (age 47)
  • British
  • American
  • Novelist
  • fashion designer
Notable workShuggie Bain (2020)
SpouseMichael Cary
Awards2020 Booker Prize

Douglas Stuart (born 31 May 1976)[1][2] is a Scottish-American writer and fashion designer. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, he studied at the Scottish College of Textiles and London's Royal College of Art, before moving at the age of 24 to New York City, where he built a successful career in fashion design, while also beginning to write. His debut novel, Shuggie Bain – which had initially been turned down by many publishers on both sides of the Atlantic – was awarded the 2020 Booker Prize. His second novel, Young Mungo, was published in April 2022.

Early life[edit]

Stuart was born in 1976 in Sighthill, a housing estate in Glasgow, Scotland.[2] He was the youngest of three siblings. His father left him and his family when Stuart was young, and he was raised by a single mother who was battling alcoholism and addiction.[3] His mother died from alcoholism-related health issues when he was 16. Subsequently, when he went on to write his debut Booker Prize-winning novel, Shuggie Bain, the book would be inspired by his struggles, his mother's struggles as she battled alcoholism and his relationship with his mother.[4] Speaking about his mother, he says: "My mother died very quietly of addiction one day."[5] After his mother's death, he lived with his older brother before moving into a boarding house when he was 17.[3]

Writing on Literary Hub about working-class living in the late 1970s and 1980s, Stuart notes that he grew up in a house without books and surrounded by poverty. This was the time when Thatcher-era economic policies had "decimated the working man", moving industry away from the west coast of Scotland, leaving behind mass unemployment, alcoholism, and drug abuse.[6]

He received a bachelor's degree from the Scottish College of Textiles (now Heriot-Watt University) and a master's degree from the Royal College of Art in London.[3] He had no formal education in literature, and notes that while he wanted to study English literature in college, he was discouraged from choosing the subject by a teacher who mentioned that it would "not suit someone from his background", resulting in Stuart subsequently studying textiles instead.[3]


Stuart moved to New York City at the age of 24 to begin a career in fashion design. He worked for many brands, including Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic and Jack Spade, for more than 20 years.[3] Stuart secretly started to write his first novel while he was balancing 12-hour shifts as a senior director of design at Banana Republic.[7][8]

Prior to his first novel being published, his works were featured in The New Yorker and LitHub.[1]

His first novel, Shuggie Bain, won the 2020 Booker Prize, chosen by a judging panel comprising Margaret Busby (chair), Lee Child, Sameer Rahim, Lemn Sissay, and Emily Wilson.[9][10] Stuart became the second Scottish author to win the Booker Prize in its 51-year history,[11] after it was awarded in 1994 to James Kelman for How Late It Was, How Late,[12] a book Stuart has credited with changing his life, since it was "one of the first times he had seen his people and dialect on the page".[13][14][15] Stuart said: "When James won in the mid-90s, Scottish voices were seen as disruptive and outside the norm."[9]

Shuggie Bain was also longlisted for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction,[16] shortlisted for the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize,[17] and was a finalist for both the 2020 Kirkus Prize[18] and the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction.[19][20] However, when Stuart wrote the novel, responses from publishers were not as encouraging, with the book being rejected by 32 US publishing companies[21] (as well as a dozen in the UK),[22] before it was finally sold to American independent publisher Grove Atlantic,[7] who published it in hardcover on 11 February 2020.[23] Shuggie Bain was later published in the United Kingdom by the Picador imprint of Pan Macmillan.[24] As of April 2022, Shuggie Bain has sold more than 1.5 million copies globally.[25][26]

The novel received generally favourable review coverage once it was published, including in The Observer,[27] The New York Times,[28] The Scotsman,[29] the TLS,[30] The Hindu,[31] and elsewhere. The book was praised for its authentic portrayal of post-industrial working-class Glasgow of the 1980s and early 1990s, and also for his capture of the "wry, indefatigable Glaswegian voice in all its various shades of wit, anger and hope."[5] Speaking at the Booker Prize award ceremony, Margaret Busby, chair of the panel, noted that the book was destined to be a classic, and went on to describe the work as a "moving, immersive and nuanced portrait of a tight-knit social world, its people and its values."[9]

In a conversation with 2019 Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo on 23 November 2020, livestreamed as a Southbank Centre event, Stuart said: "One of my biggest regrets I think is that growing up so poor I almost had to elevate myself to the middle class to turn around to tell a working-class story."[21] Discussing the "middle-class" publishers' rejections he had received for Shuggie Bain, he told Evaristo: "Everyone was writing these really gorgeous letters. They were saying 'Oh my god this will win all of the awards and it's such an amazing book and I have never read anything like that, but I have no idea how to market it'."[21] Stuart said in a 2021 conversation with the Duchess of Cornwall that winning the Booker Prize transformed his life.[32] Shuggie Bain went on to win other accolades, including being chosen both as Debut Book of the Year and Overall Book of the Year at the 2021 British Book Awards.[33]

In November 2020, Stuart revealed that he had finished his second novel, tentatively titled Loch Awe, also set in mid-1990s Glasgow.[34] The book is a love story between two young men, set against the backdrop of post-industrial Glasgow, with its territorial gangs, and divisions across sectarian lines. In his words, the book is about "toxic masculinity" and the violence that can stem from pressures on working-class boys to "man-up".[35][36] The novel was published under the title Young Mungo by Grove Press on 5 April 2022,[37] and by Picador on 14 April 2022.[38] Prior to its publication, it was described by Oprah Daily as "a beautiful novel about family love and the dangers of being different in a violent, hyper-masculine world",[39] and Kirkus Reviews concluded: "Romantic, terrifying, brutal, tender, and, in the end, sneakily hopeful. What a writer."[40]

In 2021, Stuart received an honorary doctorate from Heriot-Watt University.[41][42]

In November 2022, it was confirmed that Shuggie Bain was to be made into a television drama series, adapted by Stuart himself, to be filmed in Scotland and broadcast on BBC One and iPlayer.[43][44]

Stuart was the subject of a film profile entitled "Douglas Stuart: Love, Hope and Grit", first shown in November 2022 in Alan Yentob's BBC One television arts documentary series Imagine.[45][46]

Personal life[edit]

Stuart holds dual British and American citizenship.[47] He lives in East Village, Manhattan, with his husband, Michael Cary, an art curator at the Gagosian Gallery.[7]

Selected awards and honours[edit]



  • — (2020). Shuggie Bain: A Novel. New York: Grove Press. ISBN 978-0-8021-4804-9. UK, Picador.
  • — (2022). Young Mungo: A Novel. New York: Grove Press. ISBN 978-0-8021-5955-7. UK, Picador.

Short fiction[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Douglas Stuart". The Booker Prizes. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  2. ^ a b Millen, Robbie (15 September 2020). "Why Douglas Stuart's Shuggie Bain deserves to win the Booker prize". The Times. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e Alter, Alexandra (23 October 2020). "How 'Shuggie Bain' Became This Year's Breakout Debut". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  4. ^ Clark, Alex (22 November 2020). "Shuggie Bain's tale tells us that the Booker prize has matured". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  5. ^ a b E.C. (20 November 2020). "Douglas Stuart's "Shuggie Bain" wins the Booker Prize". The Economist (Prospero blog). ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  6. ^ Stuart, Douglas (10 February 2020). "Poverty, Anxiety, and Gender in Scottish Working-Class Literature". Literary Hub. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Alter, Alexandra (19 November 2020). "Douglas Stuart Wins Booker Prize for 'Shuggie Bain'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  8. ^ Mancini, Sophie. "Weaving Wool, Weaving Words: Douglas Stuart, author of 'Shuggie Bain,' on leaving fashion for literature". Departures. Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  9. ^ a b c Flood, Alison (19 November 2020). "Douglas Stuart wins Booker prize for debut Shuggie Bain". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  10. ^ Shuggie Bain, The Booker Prizes website.
  11. ^ Chilton, Martin (26 November 2020). "Booker prize winner Douglas Stuart: 'Homophobia makes you think there's something broken'". The Independent. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  12. ^ Duffy, Judith (15 November 2020). "Douglas Stuart's Shuggie Bain could be second Scottish book to win Booker prize". The National. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  13. ^ Doyle, Martin (19 November 2020). "Douglas Stuart wins 2020 Booker Prize for Shuggie Bain". The Irish Times.
  14. ^ "Douglas Stuart wins Booker Prize". BookBrunch. 20 November 2020. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  15. ^ "Interview with longlisted author Douglas Stuart". The Booker Prizes. 11 August 2020. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  16. ^ "Longlist for 2021 Carnegie Medals Announced". American Libraries. 26 October 2020. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  17. ^ "2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Longlist". Publishers Weekly. 22 July 2020. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  18. ^ Schaub, Michael (9 September 2020). "Kirkus Prize Finalists Are Announced". Kirkus. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  19. ^ Kircher, Madison Malone (6 October 2020). "The National Book Awards Finalists Hath Arrived". Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  20. ^ "National Book Awards 2020 shortlists announced". Books+Publishing. 7 October 2020. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
  21. ^ a b c "The Londoner: Booker winners Douglas Stuart and Bernadine Evaristo say publishers are too middle-class". Evening Standard. 24 November 2020.
  22. ^ Macaskill, Mark (29 November 2020). "Scottish Booker prize winner Shuggie Bain was rejected by 44 publishers". The Times.
  23. ^ Shuggie Bain. Grove Atlantic. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  24. ^ "Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart". Pan Macmillan. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  25. ^ Jones, Rebecca (14 April 2022). "Douglas Stuart: Booker Prize-winning author 'feels like an impostor'". BBC News. Retrieved 18 October 2022.
  26. ^ Bayley, Sian (25 April 2022). "Douglas Stuart receives a Golden Pan award as Shuggie Bain sales reach a million". The Bookseller. Retrieved 4 July 2023.
  27. ^ Preston, Alex (9 August 2020). "Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart review – lithe, revelatory debut". The Observer.
  28. ^ Cohen, Leah Hager (11 February 2020). "In 1980s Glasgow, a World of Pain Made Bearable by Love". The New York Times.
  29. ^ Massie, Allan (21 August 2020). "Book review: Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart". The Scotsman.
  30. ^ Lichtig, Toby (11 September 2020). "Glasgow kiss: A love letter to a troubled city in Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart". TLS.
  31. ^ Dasgupta, Shougat (31 October 2020). "A terrible beauty: Review of 'Shuggie Bain' and 'Real Life'". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  32. ^ Horton, Tom (3 November 2021). "Shuggie Bain author Douglas Stuart tells Duchess of Cornwall about how Booker Prize win 'transformed' his life". The Scotsman.
  33. ^ Waite-Taylor, Eva (13 May 2021). "British Book Awards: From first-time writers to a teenage activist and a skincare guru". The Independent.
  34. ^ Ferguson, Brian (19 November 2020). "Booker Prize: Glasgow author Douglas Stuart wins with debut novel Shuggie Bain". The Scotsman. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  35. ^ "Shuggie Bain". Books from Scotland. 13 August 2020. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  36. ^ Carpenter, Caroline (15 September 2020). "Douglas Stuart | 'Representation of the working-class is essential for diversity in literature'". The Bookseller. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  37. ^ Young Mungo. Grove Atlantic. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  38. ^ "Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart". Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  39. ^ Cain, Hamilton (17 November 2021). "Exclusive Cover Reveal: Douglas Stuart's New Book, Young Mungo". Oprah Daily. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  40. ^ "Young Mungo". Kirkus. 15 January 2022. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  41. ^ "Booker Prize winner awarded Honorary Degree". Heriot Watt University. 10 December 2021.
  42. ^ Stephen, Phyllis (13 December 2021). "Douglas Stuart receives honorary degree". The Edinburgh Reporter.
  43. ^ "Shuggie Bain: Douglas Stuart's Booker winner gets TV adaptation". BBC News. 14 November 2022. Retrieved 14 November 2022.
  44. ^ Yossman, K.J. (14 November 2022). "'Shuggie Bain,' Douglas Stuart's Booker Prize-Winning Novel, Set for A24, BBC Adaptation". Variety. Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  45. ^ "imagine...Douglas Stuart: Love, Hope and Grit". BBC One. 2022. Retrieved 14 November 2022.
  46. ^ Singh, Anita (14 November 2022). "Imagine… Douglas Stuart, review: the tough true story behind Shuggie Bain was no misery memoir". The Telegraph.
  47. ^ Allfree, Claire (15 September 2020). "The Booker Prize has abandoned Britain". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  48. ^ "The Booker Prize 2020". The Booker Prizes. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  49. ^ Chandler, Mark (16 November 2020). "Shuggie Bain named Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year". The Bookseller. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  50. ^ "2021 Winners". American Academy of Arts and Letters. 29 March 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  51. ^ Comerford, Ruth (13 May 2021). "Stuart's Shuggie Bain bags Book of the Year at the British Book Awards 2021". The Bookseller. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  52. ^ Kramb, Daniel (13 May 2021). "'Truly exceptional' Shuggie Bain is Book of the Year 2021 at the British Book Awards". FMcM. Retrieved 4 July 2023.
  53. ^ "2021 Independent Publisher Book Awards Results". Independent Publisher Book Awards. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  54. ^ Young, Gregor (11 December 2021). "Scottish Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart given honorary degree". The National.

External links[edit]