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Jake Arnott

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Jake Arnott
Born (1961-03-11) 11 March 1961 (age 63)
EducationAylesbury Grammar School
Notable workThe Long Firm (1999)

Jake Arnott (born 11 March 1961)[1] is a British novelist and dramatist, author of The Long Firm (1999) and six other novels.


Arnott was born in Buckinghamshire. Having left Aylesbury Grammar School at 17, he had various jobs including labourer, mortuary technician, artist's model, theatrical agency assistant, actor both with the Red Ladder Theatre Company in Leeds and appearing as a mummy in the film The Mummy. He lived in squats such as Bonnington Square and came out as bisexual in his twenties.[2][3] In 2005 Arnott was ranked one of Britain's 100 most influential LGBT people.[4]


All of the novels by Arnott are engaged in the excavation of secret histories in the teasing out and restoration of events that have taken place beneath the surface of society.[5]

  • The Long Firm (1999) tells of Harry Starks, a homosexual East End gangster in the 1960s. It includes references to many real life characters of the time including the Kray twins, Tom Driberg, and Judy Garland. A notable feature is that the story is told from five different points of view. It was adapted as a BBC 2 TV series starring Derek Jacobi, Phil Daniels and Mark Strong, broadcast in July 2004 and nominated for six BAFTAs, winning two.[6]
  • He Kills Coppers (2001) tells of a criminal on the run, based on real life cop killer Harry Roberts, the tale starting in 1966, the year of England's World Cup triumph, through to the Margaret Thatcher era, the Greenham Common protests of the 1980s and the Poll Tax Riots. It was later adapted for television, appearing on ITV1 in the UK in March and April 2008.
  • truecrime (2003) takes up the story of a gangster found dead at Starks's Spanish villa at the end of The Long Firm. The dead man's daughter wants to flush out Harry Starks, whom she suspects of the murder. She is an actress and uses the making of a film about old time British gangsters as a means of tempting his appearance.
  • Johnny Come Home (2006) shifts from a focus on the criminal underworld to the early 1970s with a plot involving The Angry Brigade and a glam rock star inspired by Gary Glitter. Johnny Come Home had been withdrawn from sale in the UK due to the presence of a villainous former bandleader named Tony Rocco; there is a real former bandleader of that name, who objected to the character's name. The book has now been reissued with the character's name changed to Timothy Royal.[7]
  • The Devil's Paintbrush (2009) is set in Paris in 1903, and deals with an encounter between disgraced homosexual former British Army officer Sir Hector MacDonald and the occultist Aleister Crowley.
  • The House of Rumour (2012) is set in London, Southern California and Munich during the Second World War and its aftermath. An American SF writer founds a new religion, a rocket scientist dabbles in the black arts and Rudolf Hess makes his dramatic night flight to Scotland after consulting astrologists. Described by the critic Mark Lawson as "A conspiracy thriller filled with bewildering connections, dark conjecture and arcane information, The House of Rumour perhaps most resembles The Da Vinci Code, rewritten by an author with the gifts of characterisation, wit and literacy."[8]
  • Doctor Who: A Handful of Stardust (2014) features the sixth incarnation of the Doctor from the popular TV Sci-Fi Series. It was released as part of the "Time Trips" range, which featured works by authors who have never written for the character before.[9]
  • The Visa Affair (2016), commissioned radio play for BBC Radio 3 in October 2016.[10] The story of how Joe Orton struggled to get a US Visa to visit the Broadway production of Entertaining Mr Sloane in 1965.[11]
  • The Fatal Tree (2017) is set in 18th-century London and follows stories that relate to "The Fatal Tree" i.e. the gallows at Tyburn. The Guardian called it a "Colourful descent into the underworld...absolutely gripping".[12] According to an interview in the Scottish Sunday Herald, "Arnott originally pitched the book as 'Moll Flanders meets A Clockwork Orange', owing to its significant use of 18th-century London street slang. The London Evening Standard described it as "a phantasmagoric walk on the Wild side".[13][14]


  1. ^ "Birthdays". The Guardian. 11 March 2014. p. 33.
  2. ^ Adams, Tim (22 April 2001), "Jake's progress" (interview),The Observer. Retrieved 18 May 2008.
  3. ^ Johncox, Louise (23 April 2006). "Time & Place: A spliff for the local cop". The Times. London. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  4. ^ Rainbownetwork.com, (29 June 2005), The Pink List 2005. Retrieved 25 June 2007.
  5. ^ "Fiction in Brief". The Times Literary Supplement. 17 July 2009.
  6. ^ "2005 Baftas". IMDb. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  7. ^ Tony Rocco and Hodder & Stoughton – Press Release Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Lawson, Mark (29 June 2012). "The House of Rumour by Jake Arnott – review". The Guardian.
  9. ^ Kavanagh-Sproull, Patrick (3 April 2014). "Interview: Jake Arnott on writing the 6th Doctor | Doctor Who TV".
  10. ^ "The Visa Affair, Drama on 3". BBC Radio 3. 9 October 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  11. ^ Chilton, Martin (2 February 2016). "Unseen Joe Orton story The Visa Affair turned into radio play". The Telegraph. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  12. ^ Eyre, Hermione (25 February 2017). "The Fatal Tree by Jake Arnott review – a colourful descent into London's underworld". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  13. ^ McGlone, Jackie (26 February 2017). "Journey to the underworld: interview with Jake Arnott, author of The Fatal Tree". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  14. ^ Sanderson, Mark (2 March 2017). "The Fatal Tree by Jake Arnott - review". Evening Standard. Retrieved 9 March 2017.

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