Polly Courtney

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Polly Courtney
Polly Courtney signing Poles Apart
Courtney signing copies of Poles Apart at its launch party in 2008
Born 1980/1981 (age 37–38)[1]
Occupation Writer
Nationality British
Period (2005–present)

Polly Courtney is an English author and media commentator. She is best known as the author of the novels Golden Handcuffs and Poles Apart.


In her early years, Courtney was a straight-A student who spent her free time playing a multitude of sports and playing violin with various orchestras and string quartets.[2] She grew up in London. Courtney graduated from the University of Cambridge with a first-class degree in mechanical engineering,[3] and worked in investment banking for two years[4] before resigning to spend time writing her first novel based on her experiences in the City.[3] In an interview, she claimed this was due to the strenuous hours and pressures synonymous with the banking culture.[5]


Courtney has written a number of novels. Her early novels, Golden Handcuffs and Poles Apart, were self-published, based on her experiences as an investment banker and the story of a Polish migrant acquaintance.[6] Her publishing success earned her a three-book publishing deal with HarperCollins imprint, Avon.[1] At the release of It's a Man's World in 2011, Courtney announced plans to return to self-publishing because she did not agree with the chick lit marketing approach used by HarperCollins.[7][8] On returning to self-publishing, Courtney said in an interview that she was pleased to have regained control.[9] Feral Youth (2013) is based on Courtney's experiences of the London riots[10] and her concerns that more unrest would be only a matter of time.[11]


  • Golden Handcuffs (2007)
  • Poles Apart (2008)
  • The Day I Died (2009)
  • Defying Gravity (2010)
  • The Fame Factor (2010)
  • It's a Man's World (2011)
  • Feral Youth (2013)


Courtney has written commentary pieces on city culture, women in the workplace, Polish migrants, lads' mags, sexism in publishing and youth discontentment for The Observer,[12] The Guardian,[13][14][15][16] The Independent,[17] The Sunday Times,[18] The Evening Standard,[19] Female First,[20] Grazia[21] and Huffington Post.[22]


  1. ^ a b Brown, Helen (8 January 2010). "Unleash your inner novelist". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 16 September 2011. Polly Courtney, a 29-year-old former investment banker, made money self-publishing her novel, Golden Handcuffs, in 2006. [...] Courtney now has a three-book deal with HarperCollins but admits that she misses being in control [...] 
  2. ^ "HarperCollins". 
  3. ^ a b "Quiz our panel of experts". The Times. London. 20 March 2007. Retrieved 16 September 2011. Polly Courtney [...] joined the graduate scheme of a large US investment bank in 2002, having graduated from Cambridge with a first class degree in mechanical engineering. Much of her writing is based on her own experience 
  4. ^ Butcher, Sarah (21 February 2007). "Editor's take: Long hours are here to stay". eFinancialCareers. Retrieved 16 September 2011. [...] two years into her bank's analyst programme, more than 50% of trainees had decided to quit, according to [Polly] Courtney. 
  5. ^ "I sold my soul to the City – then wanted it back". Grazia. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "Novelist and Social Commentator". Excellart. 
  7. ^ Harding, Eleanor (15 September 2011). "Novelist who left banking because of sexism fires publisher for putting 'fluffy and degrading' covers on her books". Daily Mail. Retrieved 22 November 2013. She quit her career in the City claiming she couldn't stand the sexism. Now novelist Polly Courtney is dropping her publisher for the same reason – complaining her books are marketed in a 'sexist' and 'degrading' manner. The 32-year-old writer, who shot to fame after penning an expose of life in the Square Mile, dramatically sacked HarperCollins at the launch of her new book last night. 
  8. ^ Flood, Alison (15 September 2011). "Novelist ditches publisher at book launch for 'condescending' treatment". The Guardian. Novelist Polly Courtney has dropped her publisher HarperCollins for giving her books "condescending and fluffy" covers aimed at the chick lit market. 
  9. ^ Flood, Alison (20 June 2013). "Polly Courtney: 'Now I'm back to self-publishing, I've regained control'". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2013. Polly Courtney explains how, after falling out with her publisher over their 'chick-lit' branding of her novels, she decided to go it alone. The result is her new novel, Feral Youth 
  10. ^ Guest, Katy (16 June 2013). "Polly Courtney interview: The voice of the recession generation". The Independent. Retrieved 22 November 2013. Alesha is no 21st-century Oliver Twist – she swears more, for starters – but she's compelling, even loveable. In the choices she has to make, she raises some uncomfortable questions about this abandoned generation of poor, semi-literate, "feral" youth. 
  11. ^ "New riots a matter of time: Writer". Evening Standard. Retrieved 22 November 2013. Polly Courtney said more unrest is "only a matter of time" unless the Government shifts its priorities to improve conditions for young adults. 
  12. ^ Courtney, Polly. "'My high-flying City job was not worth a life of misery'". The Observer. At 21, Cambridge graduate Polly Courtney was offered a prestigious job at a City investment bank. But her high hopes turned to despair – a battle against overwork, sexism and vicious backstabbing. 
  13. ^ Courtney, Polly (27 August 2006). "Beyond the City Limits". The Guardian. The interviewer's eyes lit up as he scanned my CV. Here was a candidate who did everything: played football, led orchestras, climbed mountains, ran marathons... 
  14. ^ Courtney, Polly (21 October 2006). "Women at Work". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2013. What d'you mean, 'Will I be up to the job?' Why wouldn't I be? 
  15. ^ Courtney, Polly (16 September 2011). "No frills please: don't chick-lit my books just because I'm a woman". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2013. I write women's fiction and I'm fed up with my books being branded as chick-lit. That's why I've given my publisher the push 
  16. ^ Courtney, Polly (20 June 2013). "'Now I'm back to self-publishing, I've regained control'". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2013. When I signed with HarperCollins, I thought "Great! This is the golden ticket I've been waiting for!" 
  17. ^ Courtney, Polly (23 August 2013). "My so-called life as an intern at Merrill Lynch". The Independent. Retrieved 22 November 2013. On Monday night, Moritz Erhardt, 21, was found dead in his east London flat. He was a week away from finishing a summer internship at the London office of Merrill Lynch. 
  18. ^ Courtney, Polly (11 November 2012). "What it feels like... to leave a City career behind". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 22 November 2013. It's not all about the money," the blonde in the glamorous suit assured me as I glugged down the free wine. 
  19. ^ Courtney, Polly (5 August 2013). "New riots a matter of time". The Evening Standard. Retrieved 22 November 2013. Charities are doing an incredible job right now but, unless there is a significant shift in Government priorities and spending, more riots can only be a matter of time. 
  20. ^ Courtney, Polly (9 August 2013). "Feral Youth by Polly Courtney". 
  21. ^ Courtney, Polly. "Leaving Your Desk at Midnight was an Early Night" (430). 
  22. ^ Courtney, Polly. "Why It's Fine for Romola Garai to Say We Should #LoseTheLadsMags". Huffington Post. Such is the sexism inherent in our media and film industries, using our sexuality is sometimes the only way for women to build enough of a platform to have something to shout from. 

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