Graham Swift

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Graham Swift
Swift in the early 1980s
Swift in the early 1980s
Born (1949-05-04) 4 May 1949 (age 72)
London, England
Notable worksShuttlecock,
Last Orders
Notable awardsGeoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, 1983
Booker Prize, 1996
James Tait Black Memorial Prize, 1996

Graham Colin Swift FRSL (born 4 May 1949) is an English writer. Born in London, England, he was educated at Dulwich College, London, Queens' College, Cambridge, and later the University of York.

Some of Swift's books have been filmed, including Waterland (1992), Shuttlecock (1993) and Last Orders (1996). His novel Last Orders was joint-winner of the 1996 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction and a mildly controversial winner of the 1996 Booker Prize, owing to the similarities in plot to William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying.

The prize-winning Waterland is set in The Fens. A novel of landscape, history and family, it is often cited as one of the outstanding post-war British novels and has been a set text on the English literature syllabus in British schools.[1][2] Writer Patrick McGrath asked Swift about the "feeling for magic" in Waterland during an interview. Swift responded that "The phrase everybody comes up with is magic realism, which I think has now become a little tired. But on the other hand there’s no doubt that English writers of my generation have been very much influenced by writers from outside who in one way or another have got this magical, surreal quality, such as Borges, Márquez, Grass, and that that has been stimulating. I think in general it’s been a good thing. Because we are, as ever, terribly parochial, self-absorbed and isolated, culturally, in this country. It’s about time we began to absorb things from outside."[3]

Swift was acquainted with Ted Hughes[4] and has himself published poetry, some of which is included in Making an Elephant: Writing from Within (2009)..

List of works[edit]


  • The Sweet-Shop Owner (1980)
  • Shuttlecock (1981) – winner of the 1983 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize
  • Waterland (1983) - shortlisted for Booker Prize
  • Out of This World (1988)
  • Ever After (1992)
  • Last Orders (1996) – winner of the 1996 Booker Prize
  • The Light of Day (2003) – long listed for the Man Booker Prize.
  • Tomorrow (2007)
  • Wish You Were Here (2011)
  • Mothering Sunday (2016) ISBN 978-1101947524[5]
  • Here We Are (2020)


  • Making an Elephant: Writing from Within (2009)

Short story collections[edit]

Short stories[edit]


Waterland was adapted into a film of the same name in 1992.[7] The film was directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal and starred Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Irons, and Sinéad Cusack.[8]

In 2017, it was announced that Swift's novel Mothering Sunday was being optioned by Film4 with the adaptation to be written by Alice Birch.[9]


  1. ^ OCR A Level English
  2. ^ AQA
  3. ^ McGrath, Patrick. "Graham Swift" Archived 16 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine, BOMB Magazine Spring, 1986. Retrieved 2012-11-26.
  4. ^ Kennedy, Maev (10 March 2009). "Graham Swift joins angling partner Ted Hughes in British Library archive". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  5. ^ Penguin/Random House
  6. ^ Pan/MacMillan[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (6 November 1992). "Waterland". Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  8. ^ Rainer, Peter (6 November 1992). "MOVIE REVIEW : The Past Flows Poetically Through 'Waterland'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  9. ^ Barraclough, Leo (12 February 2017). "Film4 Options 'Mothering Sunday' for Development With Number 9 (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 20 March 2020.

External links[edit]