Faber signs 'intimate' authorised biography of McGahern by Shovin

Faber signs 'intimate' authorised biography of McGahern by Shovin

Faber has acquired the "intimate" authorised biography of Irish writer John McGahern, by academic Frank Shovlin.

Publisher Alex Bowler and editor Ella Griffiths acquired world all-language rights from Bill Hamilton at A M Heath.

Shovlin is professor of Irish literature in English at the University of Liverpool and editor of The Letters of John McGahern, which Faber published in September. 

For more than a decade he has been researching the author’s life via his archive at the National University of Ireland, in Galway, as well as in private papers and exclusive interviews with the late writer's widow Madeline McGahern, with whom Shovlin will work closely on this biography.

Born in 1934, McGahern was the eldest of seven children. Raised in the west of Ireland, the son of a Garda sergeant and a primary school teacher, McGahern’s father had served as an IRA volunteer in the Irish War of Independence. His mother died when McGrahern was nine. An outstanding student, McGahern trained, like his mother, to become a teacher but was dismissed when his second novel, The Dark, was banned by the Irish Censorship Board in 1965 for "obscene" content. An author of six novels and four story collections, McGahern was shortlisted for the 1990 Booker Prize for Amongst Women (Faber) and awarded the Irish PEN Award, the Prix Ecureuil de Littérature Etrangère and the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Faber said of the book: "This will be the definitive biography of one of the 20th century’s most significant writers. As Frank says, a portrait of McGahern’s life is inextricably a history of modern Ireland, giving a unique insight into a society on the cusp of transformation. Yet this will also be an intimate portrait of an enigmatic artist, illuminating both the man himself and his soul-shattering novels as never before."