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Louise O'Neill

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Louise O'Neill is an Irish author who writes primarily for young adults. She was born in 1985 and grew up in Clonakilty, in West Cork, Ireland.[1]


O'Neill moved to New York City in 2010. Upon returning to Ireland in 2011, O'Neill began her first novel Only Ever Yours, which was published in 2014. She has since won the Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year at the 2014 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards;[2] the Children's Books Ireland Eilís Dillon Award for a First Children's Book; and The Bookseller's inaugural YA Book Prize 2015.[3] The success of her debut, originally published as a novel for young adults, led Quercus to issue a new edition in 2015 aimed at a general audience. The Guardian called O'Neill "the best YA fiction writer alive today".[4]

Her second book, Asking For It, was a number-one bestseller in Ireland and won several awards, including being named Irish Times Book of the Month in September 2015,[5] Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2015, the honour prize for fiction at the CBI awards 2016.[6] and the American Library Association's Michael L. Printz Honor for excellence in literature written for young adults.[7] The New York Times called it "riveting and essential".[8] Asking For It was one of the top ten best-selling books in Ireland in 2016.[9]

She has sold the rights to two of her books: Killer Content acquired the film and TV rights for Only Ever Yours,[10] and Bandit Television owns TV rights for Asking For It.[11]

O'Neill works as a freelance journalist for a number of Irish national newspapers and magazines, covering feminist issues, fashion and pop culture. As of 2016, she has written as a weekly columnist for the Irish Examiner. She was a contributor to I Call Myself A Feminist, a collection of essays from women under 30 explaining why they see themselves as feminists. She won the Literature Award at the Irish Tatler Women of the Year Awards 2015, Best Author at the Stellar Shine Awards 2015[12] and the Praeses Elite award by Trinity College Dublin.[citation needed]

She hosted the RTÉ2 television documentary, Asking For It?: Reality Bites, based on her second book, which aired on 1 November 2016. In the documentary O'Neill explores the issue of consent and tackling sexual assault and rape culture in Ireland.

Asking For It has been adapted for stage by Landmark Productions, and premiered at the Cork Midsummer Festival 2018. It then went on to a sold-out run at Dublin's Abbey Theatre.[citation needed]

O’Neill's third novel, Almost Love, was published in March 2018 by Riverrun. The Surface Breaks, a reimagining of The Little Mermaid, was published by Scholastic in May 2018.[citation needed]


Only Ever Yours (2014)

Only Ever Yours follows the story of Freida and Isabel during their final year of school. In the dystopian world of this novel, only boys are born naturally, girls are created in laboratories and are raised and educated in schools in order to conform to stereotypical standards of femininity. These girls must fight for the honor of being selected as a "companion"(wife).[13]

Asking For It (2015)

Asking For It tells the story of Emma, an eighteen year old Leaving Cert student living in a rural Irish community. One night, at a party, Emma is raped. The novel deals with the fallout of this event as it impacts both, her family life, and relationships with her friends. O’Neill, herself, admits that Emma is a flawed, unlikable, character. She describes this character choice as a means to challenge cultural notions of the sweet innocent victim, stating that she wanted to “make the reader almost complicit because of the fact Emma is unlikeable. The reader isn’t always going to understand or condone Emma’s actions, forcing them to think deeply about what occurs in the book”[14]

Almost Love (2018)

Almost Love is composed of two sections, "Now" and "Then", which take place in reverse chronological order. The plot of the novel revolves around Sarah, a woman in her late twenties who finds herself teaching at a prestigious Dublin school instead of pursuing her art (which was the reason she moved to Dublin). Sarah struggles with dissatisfaction towards her relationship with her boyfriend, her friends and her past. The novel reverts to Sarah’s past as we learn of her affair with Matthew, a man twenty years her senior.[15]

The Surface Breaks (2018)

The Surface Breaks is a feminist reimagining of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. In this re-telling, the mermaid (Gaia) struggles to break free from her oppressive father in order to find her place in the world. The novel uses the classic fairy tale to deal with issues of objectification, silencing and consent.[16][17]


  1. ^ "Louise O'Neill". Amazon. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  2. ^ "The Sunday Times Newcomer of the Year". Irish Book Awards. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  3. ^ "Louise O'Neill wins inaugural YA Book Prize". The Bookseller. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  4. ^ "Louise O'Neill Asking For It Interview". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  5. ^ Doyle, Martin (14 September 2015). "Asking For It by Louise O'Neill is the new Irish Times Book Club choice". The Irish Times. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  6. ^ "Sarah Crossan wins the Irish children's book of the year". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  7. ^ "American Library Association announces 2017 youth media award winners". American Library Association. 30 January 2017.
  8. ^ Giles, Jeff (April 7, 2016). "Y.A. Crossover". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is Ireland's 2016 bestseller". Irish Times. 4 January 2017. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  10. ^ "Killer Content Adapting Novel 'Only Ever Yours' For Film, TV". Retrieved May 1, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "TV deal for O'Neill's Asking For It". Retrieved May 1, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "STELLAR Shine Awards 2015: The Winners!". Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  13. ^ Abundantly_dramaticT (2014-07-22). "Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill – review". the Guardian. Retrieved 2021-02-17.
  14. ^ Barry, Aoife. "Louise O'Neill: "I wanted the reader to finish this book and be absolutely furious"". Retrieved 2021-02-17.
  15. ^ "Almost Love by Louise O'Neill: ample genius but scant joy". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2021-02-17.
  16. ^ "The Surface Breaks – Childrens Books Ireland". Retrieved 2021-02-17.
  17. ^ Hennessy, Claire. "Witches, mermaids and masturbation: Louise O'Neill on her new novel for teenagers". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2021-02-17.