Paul McDonald (writer)

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Paul McDonald
Paul McDonald 2007.JPG
Paul McDonald
Walsall, England
Known forWriter and academic

Paul McDonald (born 1961 in Walsall) is a British academic, comic novelist, and poet.[1] He teaches English and American Literature at the University of Wolverhampton, where he also runs the Creative and Professional Writing Programme.

He left school at 16 and began work as a saddlemaker, an occupation that provides the backdrop for his first novel, Surviving Sting (2001).[2] After a period studying with the Open University, McDonald entered full-time education at Birmingham Polytechnic, where he began writing fiction, initially producing stories for the women's romance market under a female pseudonym.[3] He later won a scholarship to research a PhD, and in 1994 took an academic post teaching American literature at the University of Wolverhampton.[4]

His second novel, Kiss Me Softly, Amy Turtle (2004) is a comic mystery satirising the Midlands town of Walsall,[5][6][7] while his third, Do I Love You? (2008), takes Northern Soul as its theme.[8][9] His poetry began appearing in the early 1990s and embraces a range of themes and styles. Again humour is a feature, as is surrealism, but he also writes serious love poetry, and verse about art and travel. His most recent collections are Catch a Falling Tortoise (2007) and An Artist Goes Bananas (2012).[10] McDonald's poetry has won several prizes, including the 2012 John Clare Prize.[11] His academic writing includes books on Philip Roth, Joseph Heller, the fiction of The Black Country, and humour.[12][13]

As a humour specialist, McDonald has made several TV appearances, including on BBC Breakfast and The One Show, and he is credited with identifying the oldest joke in the world.[14][15][16] He discusses the latter, and some of the ideas contained in his book The Philosophy of Humour with Michael Grade in the BBC documentary Michael Grade & The World's Oldest Joke.[17]



  • The Right Suggestion (1999)
  • Catch a Falling Tortoise (2007)
  • An Artist Goes Bananas (2012)
  • Rimbaud's Hair (2017)


  • Surviving Sting (2001)
  • Kiss Me Softly, Amy Turtle (2004)
  • Do I Love You? (2008)


  • Fiction from the Furnace (2002)
  • Students Guide to Philip Roth (2003)
  • Laughing at the Darkness (2011)
  • Reading Catch-22 (2012)
  • Reading Toni Morrison's Beloved (2013)
  • Storytelling (2014)
  • Philip Roth Through the Lens of Kepesh (2016)
  • The Enigmas of Confinement (2018)
  • Lydia Davis: A Study (2019)
  • Allen Ginsberg:Cosmopolitan Comic (2020)


  • The Philosophy of Humour (2013)

As Editor[edit]

  • Loffing Matters (2006)
  • The Tipping Point (2012)


  1. ^ Literary Heritage West Midlands Author Unnamed, page entry 2002. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 July 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Rachel Taylor, "Review of Surviving Sting", FictionNet, 2001.
  3. ^ Richard Williamson, "The Perils of Love in the Raunchy, Rude, Violent, Badlands of Walsall", The Sunday Mercury, 7 October 2001.
  4. ^ "In Conversation with Author and Lecturer Paul McDonald". Transition/Tradition. 7 December 2008. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  5. ^ Anita Sethi, "Escape from Walsall", The Times Literary Supplement, 21 May 2004 (19–20).
  6. ^ "Melvyn Bragg's Travels in Written Britain: The Midlands", The Telegraph, 12 July 2007.
  7. ^ Jodie Hamilton, "Review of Kiss Me Softly Amy Turtle", Ready Steady Book, 12 April 2005.
  8. ^ Toby Clements, "Saving the Hapless Male", The Telegraph, 20 September 2008.
  9. ^ Cahir O'Doherty, "Do I Love You: Paul McDonald", Irish Central, March 7th, 2010.
  10. ^ Caroline Clark, "Catch a Falling Tortoise", 7 September 2007.
  11. ^ "Appointments", Times Higher Educational Supplement, 4 October 2012.
  12. ^ Chris Osborne, "From Saddles to Chuckles", BBC Black Country Website, January 2008.
  13. ^ Jonathan Williams, "Of Roth and Walsall", The Student Times, 3 November 2008 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ Stephen Adams, "The World's Oldest Joke Revealed by University Research", The Telegraph. 31 July 2008.
  15. ^ John Joseph, "World's Oldest Joke Traced Back to 1900 BC", Reuters Website, 31 July 2008.
  16. ^ "Flatulence joke is world's oldest", BBC News Website Friday, 1 August 2008.
  17. ^ Michael Grade & The World's Oldest Joke, broadcast 6 March 2013 (BBC Four).

External links[edit]

  • Publisher's Website (fiction) [1]
  • Publisher's Website (poetry) [2]
  • University of Wolverhampton Staff Page [3]
  • An Independent on Sunday article in which Paul McDonald discusses humour [4]
  • A Birmingham Post article in which Paul McDonald gives advice on how to write humour. [5]