Neil Humphreys

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Neil Humphreys
Born (1974-12-05) December 5, 1974 (age 42)
Dagenham, United Kingdom
Residence Singapore
Alma mater Manchester University
Occupation Educator, Journalist
Notable work Notes From an Even Smaller Island

Neil Humphreys (born 5 December 1974) is a British humour columnist and author of three best-selling humorous books about Singapore - Notes From an Even Smaller Island (2001), Scribbles from the Same Island (2003) and Final Notes from a Great Island (2006). The last of these was on Singapore's bestsellers list for several consecutive weeks, proving the popularity of his writings among Singaporeans. His latest book, Return to a Sexy Island - the fourth in his bestselling Notes series - made the bestseller list in Singapore in June 2012.

Brought up in Dagenham, London, England, Humphreys arrived in Singapore in 1996 and had initially planned on staying in Singapore for only 3 months. However, he instantly fell in love with the island-state and decided to settle there. Humphreys has always lived in Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats in Toa Payoh, a public housing estate in central Singapore, despite moving twice. Although he is a foreigner, he has chosen to assimilate himself into the Singapore culture through living in HDB flats, eating at local kopitiams and trying out many things that the locals do. He often pokes fun at Western expatriates working in Singapore by comparing their living habits with his own, criticising them for their aloofness from the local society and their extravagant lifestyles.

Humphreys has since returned to Singapore from his short stint in Australia. He now works as a freelance writer, and writes regular columns in the sports and lifestyle sections of My Paper in Singapore, as well as other publications.

He said in a Straits Times column and on his website that he may be adapting his books into a Singapore movie, called Notes From An Expat and was working on the screenplay.

Family life[edit]

Humphreys is married to Tracy, who keeps a low profile. He writes about her quite frequently in his columns and books. They have a daughter. Humphreys' mother lives in Kent, England. He often recounts with humour his childhood relationship with her.

Early career[edit]

Humphreys began as a speech and drama teacher at Victoria School, a month after arriving in Singapore. He subsequently taught at various primary and secondary schools.

Career with Today[edit]

Humphreys was a columnist with local newspaper Today. He contributed to its sports section, mostly with news related to the English Premier League, and its entertainment section, with regular movie reviews. He later wrote for the Straits Times.

He is best known for his humorous columns poking fun at various facets of life in Singapore, and revealing aspects of his childhood in working-class London. He once said that he speaks with a Cockney accent.


When Final Notes from a Great Island was released in 2006, it became obvious that Neil Humphreys had decided on leaving Singapore. It was later revealed that he has decided to migrate to Australia with his wife. Humphreys explained the reason for his migration as having the 'travelling itch'. However, he has stated that he does not currently have any plans regarding what he would do in Australia.

Many people have written to Today after news of Humphreys's migration was announced, expressing their dismay at his decision to migrate to Australia. Many readers expressed heartfelt appreciation for his contributions to 'Dogs' over the past few years. Sales of his books also jumped due to the publicity of his impending departure. In 2007, he started writing for the Straits Times. He writes a sports column on Thursdays and a Life! column on Saturdays and they both remain popular. He also writes columns for ARENA Singapore and Tiger Airways' in-flight magazine. After the release of his new book Be My Baby, he started writing for Young Parents in late 2008. his latest book:"Match Fixer" was written in Australia.


Notes From an Even Smaller Island[edit]

Notes From an Even Smaller Island was the first of three books published by Neil Humphreys. It details his experience of arriving in Singapore and adapting to the unique local culture of Singapore. After it was first published, it quickly rose to the top of Singapore's bestsellers list as the local Singaporeans could identify with his writings. It was after this book that he became well known and was subsequently hired by Today newspaper as a columnist. The title of the book is ostensibly a nodding reference to Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island, a travel book about Humphreys' native land, Britain. A new edition was issued in late 2008.

Scribbles from the Same Island[edit]

Scribbles from the Same Island is the second book published by Neil Humphreys. It is actually a collection of his weekly columns published while he was at Today. As the book was published in 2003, it only includes columns written by him before that. After the book was released under high expectations from the public, there was criticism that the material of the book was unoriginal as it was merely a compilation of his past columns. There were claims that this book was published to 'milk' the popularity gained from the publication of his first book. Nevertheless, the second book quickly rose up Singapore's bestsellers list as well.

Final Notes from a Great Island[edit]

Final Notes from a Great Island is the final of the three books published by Neil Humphreys about Singapore before he migrated to Australia. In the book, which was meant to be a final, affectionate look at Singapore before he left, Humphreys takes an island-wide tour of Singapore where he explores the lesser-known side of Singapore. He started his tour from the HDB estate of Toa Payoh as that was where he had lived for the entire ten years that he spent in Singapore.

After the book was published, some readers used it as a guidebook and followed the route Humphreys took around Singapore. Humphreys has said this is his favourite book in the Singapore series.

Complete Notes From Singapore The Omnibus Edition[edit]

Complete Notes From Singapore The Omnibus Edition brings together all three previous books with some updates. There is also a chapter on his life and experiences in Australia. The new edition was relaunched in late 2008 with a new cover and is a proving to be the most popular of Humphreys' books, probably because it contains "Singapore" in the title and is being used as a travel guide for Singapore visitors.

Match Fixer[edit]

Match Fixer is Humphreys' first foray into writing fiction.It was released in late 2009. The book recounts the misadventures of young ex-West Ham striker Chris Osbourne as he arrives in Singapore to salvage a footballing career gone wrong at S-league Club Raffles Rangers. Chris foreys into a world where football is only seen as a cash cow and a Singapore that is kept under wraps. It also shows Singapore's darker side: a world of vice.

Will Chris be able to survive this unfamiliar world? Will Raffles Rangers win the S-League again?

Be My Baby: on the Road to Fatherhood[edit]

In November 2008, Neil Humphreys released his new book Be My Baby: On the Road to Fatherhood. It was launched in Singapore and the region and will be launched in Australia in early 2009. Set in Geelong, Australia, it is about his journey to becoming a father. The back cover reads, “When two lines appear on the pregnancy test kit, Humphreys’ world is turned upside down. He is excited but clueless and urgently needs some directions. After all, his biggest responsibility to this point had been a pet hamster and he lost that twice.

From the moment his doctor tells him to book an obstetrician’s appointment, he knows he is out of his depth — he does not know what an obstetrician is.

Humphreys deals with parents who mock his sex drive, midwives who question his usefulness, friends who share only horrific birth stories, strangers who rub his wife’s belly and folks who seem to know everything there is to know about pregnancy (but often do not have kids of their own). And there’s that troubling dream about her giving birth to a plastic toy lizard made in China. Both funny and poignant, Be My Baby is a frank account of Humphreys’ quest to be a good father.

The book was a success with Humphreys' established readers, as well as prospective parents.

Premier Leech[edit]

Premier Leech: A Story of Greed, Sleaze and Corruption is a book written by Humphreys, published in December 2010. It is a behind-the-scenes story of famous footballers' dark side of life. This book, a fictional work that touches on the ills of modern football, gives an insight to the reality that happens inside the Premier League.


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