About the Author


Nicholas Murray is a poet and literary biographer based in the Welsh Marches.  Born in Liverpool and educated at Liverpool University where he read English he is the author of several literary biographies including lives of Franz Kafka, Aldous Huxley, Bruce Chatwin, Andrew Marvell and Matthew Arnold. He has written books about Liverpool and about Bloomsbury; a book about the British Victorian travellers; a book about the British poets of the First World War; fifteen collections of poems; and two novels.  His biography of Matthew Arnold was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1997 and his biography of Aldous Huxley was shortlisted for the Marsh Biography Prize in 2003.  His biography of Franz Kafka has been translated into nine languages.  He has been a regular contributor of poems, essays and reviews to a wide range of newspapers and literary magazines. In 1996 he was the inaugural Gladys Krieble Delmas Fellow at the British Library Centre for the Book and he is a Fellow of the Welsh Academy.  He has lectured at literary festivals and universities in Britain, Europe and the United States. From 2003-2007 he was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Queen Mary, University London and from 2010-2011 an RLF Fellow at King’s College, London where he later taught seminars on good writing.  He has been a tutor in biography, travel-writing and creative non-fiction at the City Literary Institute in London. In 2003 he was a judge of the Welsh Book of the Year and he has in the past been a member of P.E.N.’s Writers in Prison and Writers in Translation Committees. His anti-Brexit verse satire A Dog’s Brexit was published in 2017 and in 2022 Elsewhere: Collected Poems of Nicholas Murray was published by Melos. Bloomsbury and the Poets was published in 2014 and Crossings: a journey through borders in 2016.  He was the winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Prize for poetry. With his wife, Susan Murray, he runs the small award-winning poetry imprint, Rack Press.


His most recent publications are in November 2023 is a poetry pamphlet, The Dictionary Speaks.

 and River Run: For the Wye in Hard Times (April 2024, Rack Press Broadside No 1)


Nicholas Murray is represented by United Agents


Substack page: https://www.nicholasmurray.substack.com/



Awards and Fellowships


  • Inaugural Gladys Krieble Delmas Fellow British Library Centre for the Book, 1996
  • New York Times, Notable Book of the Year, 1997 (for A Life of Matthew Arnold)
  • Marsh Biography Awards, 2003 (shortlisted for Aldous Huxley: an English Intellectual)
  • Royal Literary Fund Fellow, Queen Mary College University of London, 2003-7
  • Royal Literary Fund Fellow, King’s College, University of London, 2010-11
  • Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary, 2013
  • Robert Graves Prize (formerly Ruskin Prize) 2015 (joint second prize)
  • Basil Bunting Prize, 2015 (first prize)
  • New Welsh Writing Awards 2018 (runner-up)
  • Poetry London Clore Prize 2019 (highly commended)

Bibliography

1993  Bruce Chatwin. Border Lines. Seren.
1995. Plausible Fictions, Rack Press
1996. A Life of Matthew Arnold. Hodder & Stoughton.
1997. After Arnold: Culture and Accessibility. British Library
1999. World Enough and Time: The Life of Andrew Marvell. Little, Brown
2001. A Short Book About Love. Seren.
2002. Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual. Little, Brown.
2003. Remembering Carmen. Seren.
2004. Kafka. Little, Brown.
2006. The Narrators. Rack Press.
2007. So Spirited A Town: Visions and Versions of Liverpool. Liverpool University Press.
2008. A Corkscrew Is Most Useful: The Travellers of Empire. Little, Brown.
2010. Real Bloomsbury. Seren.
2011a. Get Real! Rack Press.
2011b. The Red Sweet Wine of Youth: British Poets of the First World War. Little, Brown.
2012. Acapulco: New and Selected Poems. Melos.
2013. Of Earth, Water, Air and Fire: Animal Poems. Melos.
2014a. Bloomsbury and the Poets. Rack Press Editions.
2014b. Trench Feet. Rack Press.
2015. The Secrets of the Sea. Melos.
2016a. Crossings: A Journey through Borders. Seren.
2016b. The Migrant Ship. Melos.
2017. A Dog’s Brexit. Melos.
2018. The Museum of Truth. Melos
2019. The Yellow Wheelbarrow. Melos
2020. A Quartet in Winter. Melos
2021. City Lights. Melos
2022. Elsewhere: Collected Poems. Melos
2023. The Dictionary Speaks. Melos


The above is a summary which I hope is useful but here is a fuller biography for anyone needing more background:-

Nicholas Murray (poet and literary biographer)

Nicholas Murray is a poet and literary biographer living in Mid Wales. Born in Liverpool in 1952, he was educated at St Mary’s College, Crosby, and graduated from Liverpool University in 1973 in English Language and Literature. He worked in London from 1973 to 1987 as an information officer for various public bodies and voluntary organisations, including the Greater London Council and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. He became a full time journalist in 1981 on the social work weekly Community Care

In 1987 he moved to Wales where he worked as a freelance journalist for various magazines in the social services and local government sector, and was Welsh Correspondent of Local Government Chronicle, while starting to develop a career as a literary author from 1993 onwards and was a contributor of articles and poems to Welsh magazines. In recognition of his contribution to Welsh writing and publishing he was made a member and later a Fellow of the Welsh Academy

He is the author of several literary biographies including lives of Franz Kafka, Aldous Huxley, Bruce Chatwin, Andrew Marvell and Matthew Arnold, fifteen collections of poems, and two novels. His biography of Matthew Arnold was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1997 and his biography of Aldous Huxley was shortlisted for the Marsh Biography Award in 2003 and is described in The Oxford English Literary History, Volume 10: The Modern Movement (2004) by Chris Baldick as “the standard biography” of Huxley. He presented a paper on Huxley and D.H. Lawrence at an international colloquium at Bandol in the south of France in October 2021 and has given many interviews on Huxley on TV and radio.

His biography of Franz Kafka has been translated into nine languages. 

In 2015 he won the Basil Bunting Prize for poetry.

He is a regular contributor of poems, essays and reviews to a wide range of newspapers and literary magazines. In 1996 he was the inaugural Gladys Krieble Delmas Fellow at the British Library Centre for the Book and he is a Fellow of the Welsh Academy . He has lectured at literary festivals and universities in Britain, Europe and the United States. From 2003-2007 he was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Queen Mary University, London and from 2010-2011 an RLF Fellow at King's College, London. He has taught creative non-fiction at the City Literary Institute in London.

Nicholas now lives in Presteigne, Powys and as well as talks at the Presteigne Festival he has appeared at many UK literary festivals including the Bloomsbury, Hay-on-Wye, Edinburgh International, Cheltenham, Ways With Words, Daphne du Maurier, Ilkley, Oxford, Grayshott, Chester, Hampstead and Highgate, Folkestone, Liverpool, Hull, and Cardiff Festivals and lectured at universities and literary venues in Britain and Europe and in the United States at the State University of New York Oneonta and the Mercantile Library in Manhattan. He has also given talks on his biographical subjects at the National Portrait Gallery, British Library, University of London and other venues.

So Spirited a Town: Visions and Versions of Liverpool was published by Liverpool University Press in November 2007 and a book about the British Victorian travellers and explorers, A Corkscrew is Most Useful, was published by Little, Brown in April 2008. In November 2010 his book about Bloomsbury in the “Real” series was published: Real Bloomsbury. His book about the British poets of the First World War, The Red Sweet Wine of Youth (Little, Brown) appeared in February 2011. His first collection of poems, Plausible Fictions, was published in 1995 and Elsewhere: Collected Poems was published by Melos in 2022. His latest poetry collection is The Dictionary Speaks (2023).

Nicholas Murray also runs with his wife Susan Murray a poetry imprint, Rack Press, which has published over 50 poets and was Publisher of the Year in the 2014 Michael Marks Awards for poetry pamphlet publishing. He writes the Bibliophilicblogger literary blog and the Substack newsletter Free Range Writing.

Before leaving London in 1987 Nicholas was an active member of Bermondsey Labour Party from 1979 to 1987 and was its Assistant Secretary at the time of the Bermondsey by-election in 1983. He has often written poems reflecting his political commitments such as A Dog’s Brexit (Melos, 2017) which was performed at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in July 2017 and was his best-selling poetry pamphlet.  Get Real! , a satire on the Coalition Government, was performed in June 2011 by actors from the Iris Theatre Company, directed by Daniel Winder, at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden by the company’s actors Ben Crystal and Matthew Mellalieu. He has contributed to several anthologies of political poetry.


In 2019 Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s clarinet quintet Tales of the Invisible received its world premiere at the Presteigne Festival. The composer said that she took inspiration from Nicholas Murray’s 2016 book Crossings: a Journey through Borders.




Works

Literary Biographies

  • Bruce Chatwin (Border Lines, Seren, 1993)
  • A Life of Matthew Arnold (Hodder & Stoughton, 1996)
  • After Arnold: Culture and Accessibility (British Library, 1997)
  • World Enough and Time: The Life of Andrew Marvell (Little, Brown, 1999)
  • Aldous Huxley: An English Intellectual (Little, Brown, 2002)
  • Kafka (Little, Brown, 2004)
  • The Red Sweet Wine of Youth: British Poets of the First World War (Little, Brown, 2011)
  • Bloomsbury and the Poets (Rack Press Editions, 2014)


Poetry Collections

  • Plausible Fictions (Rack Press, 1995)
  • The Narrators (Rack Press, 2006)
  • Get Real! (Rack Press, 2011)
  • Acapulco: New and Selected Poems (The Melos Press, 2012)[3]
  • Of Earth, Water, Air and Fire: Animal Poems (The Melos Press, 2013)
  • Trench Feet (Rack Press, 2014)
  • The Secrets of the Sea (The Melos Press, 2015)
  • The Migrant Ship (The Melos Press, 2016)
  • A Dog’s Brexit (The Melos Press, 2017)
  • The Museum of Truth (The Melos Press, 2018)
  • The Yellow Wheelbarrow (The Melos Press, 2019)
  • A Quartet in Winter (Rack Press, 2020)
  • City Lights (The Melos Press, 2021)
  • Elsewhere: Collected Poems of Nicholas Murray (The Melos Press, 2022)
  • The Dictionary Speaks (The Melos Press, 2023)
  • River Run: for the Wye in hard times Rack Press Broadside No 1 (2024)

Fiction

  • A Short Book About Love (Seren, 2001)
  • Remembering Carmen (Seren, 2003)


Non-fiction

  • So Spirited A Town: Visions and Versions of Liverpool (Liverpool University Press, 2007)
  • A Corkscrew Is Most Useful: The Travellers of Empire (Little, Brown, 2008)
  • Real Bloomsbury (Seren, 2010)
  • Crossings: a Journey through Borders (Seren, 2016)
  • Bloomsbury and the Poets (Rack Press, 2018)


Contribution to PoetryAnthologies

The Poet’s View: poems for paintings in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (1996) edited by Gladys Mary Coles

Other People’s Clerihews (1983) edited by Gavin Ewart (Oxford University Press

The Robin Hood Book: verse versus austerity (2012) edited by Alan Morrison and Angela Topping (Caparison)

New Boots and Pantisocracies (2016) edited by W.N.Herbert and Andy Jackson (Smokestack Books)

Poems for Jeremy Corbyn (2016) edited by Merryn Williams (Shoestring)

Poems from the Borders (2019) edited by Amy Wack (Seren)

Ten Poems About Swimming (2022) edited by Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch (Candlestick Press)

Sunken Island: an anthology of British Poetry (2022) edited by Alexander Adams (The Bournbrook Press)


Miscellaneous Non-Fiction Contributions

Bindweed’s Bestseller (1982) edited by Heather and David Godwin (Pan Books)

An Owl in a Sack Troubles No Man: ten years of Weekend Competitions from the New Statesman 1979-1988 (1988) edited by Ms De Meaner and Tom Foolery (New Statesman)

Art for All? Their Policies and Our Culture (2000) edited by Mark Wallinger and Mary Warnock (Peer)

Introduction to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (2007) The Independent “Banned Books” series

Sybille Bedford: In Memory (2007) Eland Books

Malcolm Lowry: From the Mersey to the World (2009) edited by Bryan Biggs and Helen Tookey (Liverpool University Press)

The Arvon Book of Life-Writing (2010)

Life Writing: a Writer’s and Artist’s Companion (2013) edited by Sally Cline and Carole Angier [re-issue of the 2010 Arvon book with a new title]

Tactical Reading: A snappy guide to the snap general election 2017 (2017) edited by Todd Swift and Alexandra Payne (Eyewear)

A Self Amongst the Crowd: Essays from the Royal Literary Fund’s Collected Series (2019) edited by Gerry Cambridge (Royal Literary Fund)



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