I am a freelance author and journalist based in Wales and London. Born in Liverpool I am the author of several literary biographies including lives of Franz Kafka, Aldous Huxley, Bruce Chatwin, Andrew Marvell and Matthew Arnold, five collections of poems, and two novels. My biography of Matthew Arnold was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1997 and my biography of Aldous Huxley was shortlisted for the Marsh Biography Prize in 2003. My biography of Franz Kafka has been translated into nine languages.
I have contributed poems, essays and reviews to a wide range of newspapers and literary magazines. In 1996 I was the inaugural Gladys Krieble Delmas Fellow at the British Library Centre for the Book and I am a Fellow of the Welsh Academy and a member of English PEN. I have lectured at literary festivals and universities in Britain, Europe and the United States. From 2003-2007 I was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Queen Mary, University London and again at King’s College, London in 2010-11, where I later ran seminars on the fundamentals of good writing. I have also been a tutor in biography, travel-writing and creative non-fiction at the City Literary Institute in London.
So Spirited a Town: Visions and Versions of Liverpool was published by Liverpool University Press in 2007 and a book about the Victorian Travellers, A Corkscrew is Most Useful was published by Little, Brown in 2008. In 2010 my book about Bloomsbury in the “Real” series was published: Real Bloomsbury (Seren). My book about the British poets of the First World War, The Red Sweet Wine of Youth (Little, Brown) appeared in 2011 and my verse broadside against the British coalition government, Get Real! also appeared in February 2011. In April 2012 Acapulco: New and Selected Poems appeared from Melos Press and since then eight more poetry pamphlets have appeared, the latest being City Lights (Melos, 2021) and another full length book of poems, The Yellow Wheelbarrow (2019). In 2015 I won the Basil Bunting Award for Poetry and was joint runner-up in the 2015 Robert Graves Prize (previously called the Ruskin Prize). My most recent prose book is Crossings: a journey through borders (Seren, 2016).
My Collected Poems are published in July 2022 by Melos Press
Nicholas Murray’s many books include poetry, two novels, critically acclaimed biographies of Franz Kafka, Aldous Huxley, Bruce Chatwin, Andrew Marvell, and Matthew Arnold, and studies of Liverpool, Bloomsbury and British poets of the First World War. He is a Fellow of the Welsh Academy and, with his wife Sue, runs the prize-winning poetry imprint, Rack Press.
Nicholas Murray’s poems deal with love and art, humanity, politics, and the natural world in a body of work marked by both passion and fine craftsmanship. David Harsent has written that Murray has ‘a sure hand, whether with hard-edged satire…or sense impressions that produce place and event so vividly’
Praise for earlier collections of poems:
Of earth, water, air and fire ‘A real treat…an elemental menagerie in which the poet’s own delight through verbal magic becomes ours’. Christopher Reid
Get Real ‘A bravura display of finely controlled outrage.’ Times Literary Supplement
The Museum of Truth ‘A stunning collection.’ Martina Evans
City Lights ‘The poems have an emotional intelligence, a wit, that I really admire.’ Michèle Roberts
TALKS AND APPEARANCES
My next public talk later this year will be at the Presteigne Festival on Monday 29th August 2022:
A Hundred Years On: Reflections on Modernism’s annus mirabilis, 1922
It is now a hundred years since some of the major works of the modern movement in literature first appeared. The extraordinary year of 1922 saw the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses and TS Eliot’s The Waste Land as well as Katherine Mansfield’s The Garden Party, DH Lawrence’s Aaron’s Rod, Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, and Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned. But it also saw the appearance of Thomas Hardy’s Late Lyrics and A.E. Housman’s Last Poems. And not forgetting the first of the Just William books! In music Carl Nielsen’s 5th Symphony and Ravel’s arrangement of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition were first perfomed and Alban Berg completed hisn opera Wozzeck. Was all this a co-incidence? Or was there something in the spirit of the times that led to this outpouring? And do the radical modernists hog the limelight? Does concentration on these famous works misrepresent the variety of what was published? Was it all just the story of the avant-garde? The talk will explore the idea of the zeitgeist in the arts and the ways in which writers and artists respond to their times.
I run the poetry pamphlet imprint, Rack Press, which in 2014 won the Michael Marks Award for Publisher of the Year and I write the Bibliophilicblogger literary blog.
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)