William Boyd (writer)
Boyd in 2009
7 March 1952 |
Accra, Gold Coast
|Alma mater||University of Nice,
University of Glasgow,
Jesus College, Oxford
|Notable works||A Good Man in Africa|
Boyd was born in Accra, Ghana, and spent his early life in Ghana and Nigeria. He was educated at Gordonstoun school; and then the University of Nice, France, the University of Glasgow, and finally Jesus College, Oxford. Between 1980 and 1983 he was a lecturer in English at St Hilda's College, Oxford, and it was while he was there that his first novel, A Good Man in Africa (1981), was published.
He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2005. In August 2014, Boyd was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.
Although his novels have been short-listed for major prizes, he has never had the same publicity as his contemporaries. Boyd was selected in 1983 as one of the 20 "Best of Young British Novelists" in a promotion run by Granta magazine and the Book Marketing Council.
Boyd's novels include: A Good Man in Africa, a study of a disaster-prone British diplomat operating in West Africa, for which he won the Whitbread Book award and Somerset Maugham Award in 1981; An Ice-Cream War, set against the background of the World War I campaigns in colonial East Africa, which won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and was nominated for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1982; Brazzaville Beach, published in 1991, which follows a female scientist researching chimpanzee behaviour in Africa; and Any Human Heart, written in the form of the journals of a fictitious twentieth century British writer, which was long-listed for the Booker Prize in 2002. Restless, the tale of a young woman who discovers that her mother had been recruited as a spy during World War II, was published in 2006 and won the Novel Award in the 2006 Costa Book Awards. Boyd published Waiting for Sunrise: A Novel in early 2012.
Solo, the James Bond novel
As a screenwriter Boyd has written a number of feature film and television productions. The feature films include: Scoop (1987), adapted from the Evelyn Waugh novel; Stars and Bars (1988), adapted from Boyd's own novel; Mister Johnson (1990), based on the 1939 novel by Joyce Cary; A Good Man in Africa (1994), also adapted from his own novel; and The Trench (1999) which he also directed. He was one of a number of writers who worked on Chaplin (1992). His television screenwriting credits include: Good and Bad at Games (1983), adapted from Boyd's short story about English public school life; Dutch Girls (1985); Armadillo (2001), adapted from his own novel; A Waste of Shame (2005) about Shakespeare; Any Human Heart (2010), adapted from his own novel; and Restless (2012), also adapted from his own novel.
In 1998, Boyd published Nat Tate: An American Artist 1928-1960, which presents the paintings and tragic biography of a supposed New York-based 1950s abstract expressionist painter named Nat Tate, who actually never existed and was, along with his paintings, a creation of Boyd's. When the book was initially published, it was not revealed that it was a work of fiction, and some were duped by the hoax; it was launched at a lavish party, with excerpts read by David Bowie (who was in on the joke), and a number of prominent members of the art world claimed to remember the artist. It caused quite a stir once the truth was revealed.
Nat Tate also appears in Any Human Heart, also by Boyd, with a wry footnote to the 1998 book.
Boyd adapted two Anton Chekhov short stories—A Visit to Friends and My Life (The Story of a Provincial)—to create the play Longing. The play, directed by Nina Raine, stars Jonathan Bailey, Tamsin Greig, Natasha Little, Eve Ponsonby, John Sessions and Catrin Stewart. Previews begin 28 February 2013; Press Night is 7 March 2013. Boyd, who was theatre critic for the University of Glasgow in the 1970s and has many actor friends, refers to his ambition to write a play as finally getting "this monkey off my back."
- A Good Man in Africa; Hamish Hamilton, 1981
- On the Yankee Station (short story collection); Hamish Hamilton, 1981
- An Ice-Cream War; Hamish Hamilton, 1982
- Stars and Bars; Hamish Hamilton, 1984
- The New Confessions; Hamish Hamilton, 1987
- Brazzaville Beach; Sinclair-Stevenson, 1990
- The Blue Afternoon; Sinclair-Stevenson, 1993
- The Destiny of Nathalie 'X' and Other Stories; Sinclair-Stevenson, 1995
- Armadillo; Hamish Hamilton, 1998
- Nat Tate: An American Artist 1928-1960; 21 Publishing, 1998
- Any Human Heart; Hamish Hamilton, 2002
- Fascination (short story collection); Hamish Hamilton, 2004
- Restless; Bloomsbury, 2006
- Ordinary Thunderstorms; Bloomsbury, 2009
- Waiting for Sunrise; Bloomsbury, 2012
- Solo; Jonathan Cape 2013
- Sweet Caress; Bloomsbury 2015
- Protobiography; Bridgewater Press, 1998 (Limited edition)
- Bamboo; Hamish Hamilton, 2005
- Longing, 2013 (based on two Anton Chekov stories)
- School Ties; Hamish Hamilton, 1985
Uncollected short fiction
- The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth (short story); first published in Notes from the Underground, 2007
Literary prizes and awards
- 1981 Whitbread First Novel Award A Good Man in Africa
- 1982 Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize An Ice-Cream War
- 1982 Somerset Maugham Award A Good Man in Africa
- 1983 Selected as one of the 20 'Best of Young British Novelists' by Granta magazine and the Book Marketing Council
- 1990 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) Brazzaville Beach
- 1991 McVitie's Prize for Scottish Writer of the Year Brazzaville Beach
- 1993 Sunday Express Book of the Year The Blue Afternoon
- 1995 Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Fiction) The Blue Afternoon
- 2004 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (shortlist) Any Human Heart
- 2006 Costa Book Award Restless
- 2007 British Book Awards Richard and Judy Best Read of the Year (shortlist) Restless
- "William Boyd - Biography". williamboyd.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
- "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". theguardian.com. 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
- Kirby, A. J. (17 April 2012). "Waiting for Sunrise: A Novel". nyjournalofbooks.com. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- "William Boyd to write new James Bond book". itv.com. ITV News. 2012-04-12. Retrieved 2012-04-13.
- Lang, Kirsty (27 December 2012). "James Bond author William Boyd on Restless, and the spy who thrilled him". Radio Times.
- "The name's Boyd. William Boyd: New author named for latest James Bond book". Daily Mail. 2012-04-12. Retrieved 2012-04-13.
- "Bowie and Boyd "hoax" art world". BBC. 1998-04-07. Retrieved 2007-03-11.
- Snetiker, Marc (4 January 2013). "Tamsin Greig and John Sessions to Lead William Boyd's Longing in London".
- "Main Stage: Longing".
- Susie Mesure (16 December 2012). "William Boyd: The man who knows the real 007". The Independent.
- Boyd 2008, p. 4-5.
- Boyd 2008, p. 5.
- The Times Literary Supplement, "Edge of Armaggedon", August 2006,
- William Boyd, Penguin UK authors 
- Stars and Bars, New York Times, 21 May 1983, "New Territory for Explorer in Fiction", Eleanor Blau 
- The Guardian, 2 October 2004 "Brief Encounters" (William Boyd on the art of short story writing) 
- The Telegraph, 17 October 2004 "Writers' Lives: William Boyd" 
- The Observer, 3 October 2004, Fascination, "Too many tricks spoil the book" 
- Prospect magazine, "A Short history of the short story" 
- British Arts Council's emcompassculture 
- The Observer, 3 September 2006, "My week: William Boyd"
- Toronto Globe and Mail, Ben King interview, Profile of William Boyd, 2002 
- Financial Times, 14 February 2005, Arts & Style: "A soft spot for cinema" 
- Guardian Unlimited, 12 September 1999, "Boyd's own story", The Trench 
- Boyd, William (2008). The Dream Lover.
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