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Introducing our longlisted authors: Adam Nicolson

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Adam Nicolson

Meet the authors longlisted for the 2021 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award


Adam Nicolson was educated at Eton College where he was a King’s Scholar, and Magdalene College, Cambridge. He has worked as a journalist and columnist on the Sunday Times, the Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Telegraph, National Geographic Magazine and Granta, where he is a contributing editor. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Society of Antiquaries and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Adam has written about history, landscape, great literature and the sea. Among his recent books have been The Mighty Dead HarperCollins (US title: Why Homer Matters Henry Holt) exploring the epic Greek poems; The Seabird’s Cry (HC/Henry Holt)about the disaster afflicting the world’s seabirds; and The Making of Poetry (HC/FSG) on the Romantic Revolution in England in the 1790s. His work has been nominated for multiple prizes and awards, including The Samuel Johnson Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, The Wainwright Prize, the Costa, and the Scottish BAFTAs.


From April until July 1625: Huntingdon

Anno Regis Caroli 1o

Aetatis Suae xxv to xxvi

One afternoon late in April, by the pillory on Market Hill, as I stood with Alderman Stafford, considering whether we could set up some kind of workplace in which the able poor could earn their keep with flax or hemp, we watched the lunatic who lived out in Hartford come walking up the road from the bridge. He wavered from one side of the street to the other, gutter to gutter, with his head twisted like a wryneck’s on his body, & his hand up next to his chin, twisting & clutching at his ear as he walked.


What inspired you to write the story? Is it drawn from personal experience?

I have long been interested in 17th century life as the formative moment of modern consciousness and I thought a close look at a few dreadful weeks in an ordinary town had the chance of being revelatory.

How does writing short stories differ from writing full-length fiction, and what do you enjoy about writing in the genre?

I have never written fiction before. This story is my first attempt.

How do you write? Longhand or typed? Why does your chosen method work for you?

Longhand, then typed. Longhand seems to allow fluency, typing carefulness.

Which short story collection by another author would you recommend?

I am loving George Saunders’s A Swim in the Pond in the Rain.

What’s your favourite short story of all time? Who would you cast to read it?

Chekhov’s The Lady & the Dog.

Who would you cast to read the story you have entered?

Ralph Fiennes

What are you reading now?

Mark Carney, Value(s).

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