Philip Hensher - Author

About the Author

Philip Hensher's novels include Kitchen Venom, which won the Somerset Maugham Award, Other Lulus and The Mulberry Empire, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the WH Smith 'People's Choice' Award and highlighted by no fewer than twelve reviewers as their 'book of the year'. Chosen by Granta to appear on their prestigious, once-a-decade list of the twenty best young British novelists, Philip Hensher is also a columnist for the Independent and chief book reviewer for the Spectator. His most recent novel, The Northern Clemency was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008. He lives in South London.

 

Author photo © Simon James

Featured books by Philip Hensher

The Penguin Book of the British Short Story: II From P.G. Wodehouse to Zadie Smith

The Penguin Book of the British Short Story: II From P.G. Wodehouse to Zadie Smith

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/11/2015

Hilarious, exuberant, subtle, tender, brutal, spectacular, and above all unexpected: these two extraordinary volumes contain the limitless possibilities of the British short story. This is the first anthology capacious enough to celebrate the full diversity and energy of its writers, subjects and tones.

The Emperor Waltz

The Emperor Waltz

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/05/2015

The new novel from Booker Prize-shortlisted Philip Hensher - his most ambitious and daring novel yet. In this astonishing novel, various narrative strands are drawn together into a compelling symphonic whole. In a third-century desert settlement on the fringes of the Roman Empire, a new wife becomes fascinated by a cult being persecuted by the Emperor Diocletian. In 1922, Christian, a young artist, travels to Weimar to begin his studies at the Bauhaus, the avant-garde confronting conservative elements around it. With postwar Germany in turmoil, while the Bauhaus attempt to explore radical ways of thinking and living, Christian finds that love will change him forever. And in 1970s London Duncan uses his inheritance to establish the country's first gay bookshop, whatever the neighbours think and despite persecution from the police. Delving deep into the human spirit to explore connections between love, sanctity, commitment and virtue, Philip Hensher takes as his subject small groups of men and women, tightly bound together, trying to change the world through the example of their lives. 'The Emperor Waltz' is an absorbing echo-chamber of a novel, innovative and compelling, that explores what it means for us to belong to each other.

eBooks of the Month
Scenes from Early Life

Scenes from Early Life

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/01/2013

I was a baby during the war. We stayed inside for months. All my aunts took turns in feeding me. I couldn't be heard to cry. You see, there were soldiers in the streets. They would have known what a crying baby meant. So I had to be kept silent. No, not everyone came out of the war alive. One family's life, and a nation - Bangladesh - are uniquely created through conversation, sacrifice, songs, bonds, blood, bravery and jokes.

eBooks of the Month
The Northern Clemency

The Northern Clemency

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/04/2009

  Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008   A tale of two families living in Sheffield from the 1970's through to the 90's. The book wonderfully evokes the style and sentiments of the 70's and 80's and the interwoven lives of the two families, along with other characters, against a backdrop of political upheaval with the miners strike and the effects of the Thatcher years. This isn't a political novel though, more a comment on a time and place and how ordinary people were effected by events unravelling around them. A great saga of a book, do not be put off by the length (738 pages) as it's compelling stuff.

eBooks of the Month
Fit

Fit

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/04/2005

His last novel, a well-researched historical work, The Mulberry Empire, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and he is one of Granta’s Best of British novelists. This new one returns to the platform of his first novel, comic writing at its best. Light and strangely tender, it tells of an indexer stuck in a rut and now suddenly deserted by his wife. The title describes the rest! Comparison: Patrick Gale, Nicholas Shakespeare, David Lodge.Similar this month: Alan Hollinghurst, Muriel Spark.

King of the Badgers

King of the Badgers

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/03/2012

The new novel from the Booker Prize-shortlisted author of 'The Northern Clemency'. Hanmouth: a quiet, picturesque English seaside town. But behind closed, Georgian front doors and the within the artisan cheese shop, its residents live lives that are anything but. When an 8-year-old girl goes missing from the estate on the fringes of the town, Hanmouth becomes the centre of national attention. Under the scrutiny of the investigation the extraordinary individual lives of the community are laid bare: the passions of a quiet international aid worker; a recently widowed old woman's late discovery of sexual gratification; and a memorable party, held by the Bears. Through the apparent civility and spiralling paranoia a small town, Philip Hensher brings us another brilliantly funny and perfectly observed slice of contemporary English life.

eBooks of the Month

Other books by Philip Hensher

The Golden Age of British Short Stories 1890-1914

The Golden Age of British Short Stories 1890-1914

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/06/2021

'Excellent, entertaining and ingenious ... from Oscar Wilde to Arthur Conan Doyle, this fine anthology celebrates one of the richest moments in Britain's literary history' Sunday Times The quarter century between 1890 and the outbreak of the First World War saw an extraordinary boom in the popularity and quality of short stories in Britain, fuelled by a large, eager new magazine readership. The great writers of the age produced some of their finest work, and literary genres - the ghost story, science fiction - took shape. This richly varied, endlessly entertaining anthology brings together authors from Katherine Mansfield to Rudyard Kipling, James Joyce to Saki, H. G. Wells to Rebecca West. It celebrates a teeming, innovative world of literary achievement. Edited with an introduction by Philip Hensher

A Small Revolution in Germany

A Small Revolution in Germany

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/02/2020

A Small Revolution in Germany is about growing up, or refusing to accept what growing up means; it's about the small dishonest pacts that people make with their own futures; and it's about the rare and joyous refusal to be disillusioned. Everyone remembers what it's like to be seventeen. The conversations you have; the ideas that burst on you; the kiss that transforms you. And then you grow up, and make a deal with adulthood. A Small Revolution in Germany is about that rapturous moment when ideas, and ideals, and passion crash over one boy's head. And what happens in the decades afterwards? When you see the overwhelming truth when you are seventeen, why should you ever abandon that truth? Spike is brought into a small, clever group of friends, bursting with a passion for ideas, and the wish to change the world. They smash up political meetings; they paint slogans on walls; they long for armed revolution; they argue, exuberantly, until dawn. In the years to follow, they all change their minds, and go into the world. They become writers, politicians, public figures. One of them becomes famous when she dies. They all change their minds, and make sensible compromises. Only Spike stays exactly as he is, going on with the burning desire for change, in the safe embrace of unconditional love. Alone from the old group, he is the only one who has achieved nothing, and who has never deviated from the impractical shining path of revolution he saw as a teenager. Thirty years on, photographs of the teenage group look like a bunch of celebrated individuals, with only one unknown face in it - Spike.

Berlin Stories

Berlin Stories

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/10/2019

Berlin, in the words of Philip Hensher, editor of this anthology, 'has always been a city of desperate modernity', both in terms of urban architecture - largely a creation of the progressive 19th century, laid waste by World War II, temporary home of the infamous Wall - and in ways of living and behaving. As early as the 1920s it was the gay capital of Europe; the Communist East/free West barrier presented unique problems for a divided population; and in the 1990s, in the aftermath of reunification, the cheap, run-down city became a vibrant centre for creative artists. 'The sense of making it up as you go along is never far away in Berlin.' The stories in this volume are the product of this series of multiple rebirths from the viewpoint of both insiders and outsiders. From pre- 1914 there are contributions from Theodor Fontane and Robert Walser; from the Weimar Republic, Alexander Doeblin, Vladimir Nabokov, Erich Kastner, Ernst Haffner, Irmgeud Keun and Christopher Isherwood; from the Third Reich, Thomas Wolfe, Hans Fallada and Heinz Rein; from the Cold War era, Peter Schneider, Thomas Brussig, Len Deighton, Christa Wolf and Ian McEwan; from post-reunification, Gunter Grass, Wladimir Kaminer, Chloe Aridjis, Uwe Timm, Kevin Barry, Jean-Philippe Toussaint and Jenny Erpenbeck.

The Friendly Ones

The Friendly Ones

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/02/2019

'It's the book you should give someone who thinks they don't like novels ... Here is surely a future prizewinner that is easy to read and impossible to forget' Melissa Katsoulis, The Times The things history will do at the bidding of love On a warm Sunday afternoon, Nazia and Sharif are preparing for a family barbecue. They are in the house in Sheffield that will do for the rest of their lives. In the garden next door is a retired doctor, whose four children have long since left home. When the shadow of death passes over Nazia and Sharif's party, Doctor Spinster's actions are going to bring the two families together, for decades to come. The Friendly Ones is about two families. In it, people with very different histories can fit together, and redeem each other. One is a large and loosely connected family who have come to England from the subcontinent in fits and starts, brought to England by education, and economic possibilities. Or driven away from their native country by war, murder, crime and brutal oppression - things their new neighbours know nothing about. At the heart of their story is betrayal and public shame. The secret wound that overshadows the Spinsters, their neighbours next door, is of a different kind: Leo, the eldest son, running away from Oxford University aged eighteen. How do you put these things right, in England, now? Spanning decades and with a big and beautifully drawn cast of characters all making their different ways towards lives that make sense, The Friendly Ones, Philip Hensher's moving and timely new novel, shows what a nation is made of; how the legacies of our history can be mastered by the decision to know something about people who are not like us.

The Penguin Book of the Contemporary British Short Story

The Penguin Book of the Contemporary British Short Story

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/10/2018

'Sometimes - not often - a book comes along that feels like Christmas. Philip Hensher's timely, but timeless, selection of the best short stories from the past 20 years is that kind of book. His introduction is as enriching as anything that has been published this year' Sunday Times A spectacular treasury of the best British short stories published in the last twenty years We are living in a particularly rich period for British short stories. Despite the relative lack of places in which they can be published, the challenge the medium represents has attracted a host of remarkable, subversive, entertaining and innovative writers. Philip Hensher, following the success of his definitive Penguin Book of British Short Stories, has scoured a vast trove of material and chosen thirty great stories for this new volume of works written between 1997 and the present day. Includes short stories by A.L. Kennedy, Tessa Hadley, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jackie Kay, Graham Swift, Jane Gardam, Ali Smith, Neil Gaiman, Martin Amis, China Mieville, Peter Hobbs, Thomas Morris, David Rose, David Szalay, Irvine Welsh, Lucy Caldwell, Rose Tremain, Helen Oyeyemi, Leone Ross, Helen Simpson, Zadie Smith, Will Self, Gerard Woodward, James Kelman, Lucy Wood, Hilary Mantel, Eley Williams, Sarah Hall, Mark Haddon and Helen Dunmore.

Die Stadt hinter der Mauer

Die Stadt hinter der Mauer

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Ebook Release Date: 25/05/2018

Als in Berlin die Uhren anders gingen: Friedrich will das Abenteuer - in Kreuzberg, weit weg von westdeutscher Spieigkeit. Mr. Picker, der eigenwillige Englander, will die DDR zum Traumen bringen - und plant einen Drogenschmuggel der besonderen Art. Eindringlich schildert Philip Hensher das Lebensgefuhl Berlins vor und nach dem Fall der Mauer. (Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine fruhere Ausgabe.)

Friendly Ones

Friendly Ones

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Ebook Release Date: 08/03/2018

The things history will do at the bidding of love... On a warm Sunday afternoon, Nazia and Sharif are preparing for a family barbecue. They are in the house in Sheffield that will do for the rest of their lives. In the garden next door is a retired doctor whose four children have long since left home. When the shadow of death passes over Nazia and Sharif's party, Dr Spinster's actions are going to bring the two families together for decades to come. The Friendly Ones is about two families. In it, people with very different histories can fit together and redeem each other. One is a large and loosely connected family who have come to England from the subcontinent in fits and starts, brought to England by education and economic possibilities. Or driven away from their native country by war, murder, crime and brutal oppression - things their new neighbours know nothing about. At the heart of their story is betrayal and public shame. The secret wound that overshadows the Spinsters, their neighbours next door, is of a different kind: Leo, the eldest son, running away from Oxford University aged 18. How do you put these things right, in England, now? Spanning decades, and with a big and beautifully drawn cast of characters all making their different ways towards lives that make sense, The Friendly Ones, Philip Hensher's moving and timely new novel, shows what a nation is made of and how the legacies of our history can be mastered by the decision to know something about people who are not like us.

The Penguin Book of the British Short Story: 1

The Penguin Book of the British Short Story: 1

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/09/2016

'A bold anthology ... alive with provocations and insights' John Carey, Sunday Times 'The Boy-scouts mistook my signal, and have killed the postman. I've had very little practice in this sort of thing, you see' The British short story tradition is probably the richest, most varied and historically extensive in the world. This new anthology celebrates the full diversity and energy of its writers, subjects and tones, from the story's origins with Defoe, Swift and Fielding, to the 'golden age' of the fin de siecle and Edwardian period, ending with the First World War. Including the most famous authors as well as some magnificent, little-known stories never republished since their first appearance in magazines and periodicals, these stories are by turns topical and playful, ghostly and theatrical, rumbustious and sublime. Edited with an introduction by Philip Hensher

The Penguin Book of the British Short Story: 2

The Penguin Book of the British Short Story: 2

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/09/2016

This is the first anthology capacious enough to celebrate the full diversity and energy of its writers, subjects and tones. The most famous authors are here, and many others, including some magnificent stories never republished since their first appearance in magazines and periodicals. The Penguin Book of the British Short Story has a permanent authority, and will be reached for year in and year out. This volume takes the story from the 1920s to the present day.

Tales of Persuasion

Tales of Persuasion

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Ebook Release Date: 21/04/2016

Ten daring stories from 'a writer who seems capable of anything' (Guardian), the Booker Prize-shortlisted Philip HensherBackdrops vary in this collection of stories from the author of The Northern Clemency - from turmoil in Sudan following the death of a politician in a plane crash, to southern India where a Soho hedonist starts to envisage the crump and soar of munitions. Each story, regardless of location, reveals a great writer at the peak of his powers.

Emperor Waltz

Emperor Waltz

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Ebook Release Date: 03/07/2014

The most ambitious and daring novel novel yet from Booker Prize-shortlisted Philip Hensher. `A novel that's almost fizzy to the touch ... A performance of extraordinary flair and majesty from a writer who seems capable of anything' GuardianAn astonishing novel, `The Emperor Waltz' draws together various narrative strands into a compelling symphonic whole. In a third-century desert settlement on the fringes of the Roman Empire, a new wife becomes fascinated by a cult that is persecuted by the Emperor Diocletian. In 1922, Christian, a young artist, travels to Weimar to begin his studies at the Bauhaus, where the avant-garde confronts conservative elements around it. With postwar Germany in turmoil, while the Bauhaus attempts to explore radical ways of thinking and living, Christian finds that love will change him for ever. And in 1970s London Duncan uses his inheritance to establish the country's first gay bookshop in the face of opposition from the neighbours and victimisation by the police. Delving deep into the human spirit to explore connections between love, sanctity, commitment and virtue, Philip Hensher takes as his subject small groups of men and women, tightly bound together, trying to change the world through the example of their lives. `The Emperor Waltz' is an absorbing echo-chamber of a novel, innovative and compelling, that explores what it means for us to belong to each other.

king of the badgers

king of the badgers

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Ebook Release Date: 31/03/2011

After the success of The Northern Clemency, shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize, Philip Hensher brings us another slice of contemporary life, this time the peaceful civility and spiralling paranoia of a small English town. After the success of The Mulberry Empire and The Northern Clemency, which was short-listed for the 2008 Man Booker Prize, Philip Hensher brings us the peaceful civility and spiralling paranoia of the small English town of Handsmouth. Usually a quiet and undisturbed place situated on an estuary, Handsmouth becomes the centre of national attention when an eight-year-old girl vanishes. The town fills with journalists and television crews, who latch onto the public's fearful suspicions that the missing girl, the daughter of one of the town's working-class families, was abducted. This tragic event serves to expose the range of segregated existences in the town, as spectrums of class, wealth and lifestyle are blurred in the investigation. Behind Handsmouth's closed doors and pastoral facade the extraordinary individual lives of the community are exposed. The undisclosed passions of a quiet international aid worker are set against his wife, a woman whose astonishing aptitude for intellectual pursuits, such as piano-playing and elaborate cooking, makes her seem a paragon of virtue to the outside world. A recently-widowed old woman tells a story that details her late discovery of sexual gratification. And the Bears - middle-aged, fat, hairy gay men, given to promiscuity and some drug abuse - have a party. As the search for the missing girl elevates, the case enables a self-appointed authority figure to present the case for increased surveillance, and, as old notions of privacy begin to crack, private lives seep into the public well of knowledge. Handsmouth is a powerful study of the vital importance of individuality, the increasingly intrusive hand of political powers and the unyielding strength of Nature against the worst excesses of human behaviour.

The Northern Clemency

The Northern Clemency

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/04/2009

SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2008. An epic chronicle of the last twenty years of British life from the Booker shortlisted and Granta Best of Young British novelist, Philip Hensher. Beginning in 1974 and ending with the fading of Thatcher's government in 1996, `The Northern Clemency' is Philip Hensher's epic portrait of an entire era, a novel concerned with the lives of ordinary people and history on the move. Set in Sheffield, it charts the relationship between two families: Malcolm and Katherine Glover and their three children; and their neighbours, the Sellers family, newly arrived from London so that Bernie can pursue his job with the Electricity Board. The day the Sellers move in there is a crisis across the road: Malcolm Glover has left home, convinced his wife is having an affair. The consequences of this rupture will spread throughout the lives of both couples and their children, in particular ten-year-old Tim Glover, who never quite recovers from a moment of his mother's public cruelty and the amused taunting of fifteen-year-old Sandra Sellers, childhood crises that will come to a head twenty years later. In the background, England is changing: from a manufacturing- and industrial-based economy into a new world of shops, restaurants and service industries, a shift particularly marked in the North with the miners' strike of 1984, which has a dramatic impact on both families. Inspired by the expansive scale and webs of relationships of the great nineteenth-century Russian novels, `The Northern Clemency' shows Philip Hensher to be one of our greatest chroniclers of English life.

The Bedroom of the Mister's Wife

The Bedroom of the Mister's Wife

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/07/2004

From the bestselling author of The Mulberry Empire comes 'a masterly collection of stories... astonishing' Mail on Sunday Like the room from which it takes its title, THE BEDROOM OF THE MISTER 'S WIFE is a book full of secrets, partly revealed, partly concealed. A young couple are destroyed by the simple temptations of the ideal home; a shy Italian ends up in a stranger's hospital room when he rings a telephone number left in his back pocket; after a late-night excursion to Hampstead Heath; Stalin's daughter changes the life of a Cambridge painter with the gift of a fridge; and a German police officer spends a day posing as a terrorist, discovering new possibilities within herself. In this collection of thirteen stories, discrete and contained lives brush up against each other. With unerring precision, Hensher focuses on the small moments when lives alter, his characters enacting their quiet tragedies in rooms and streets which have the crystal clarity of dreamscapes and where banality can assume almost operatic proportions.

Pleasured

Pleasured

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/07/2004

Perhaps the best novel yet about the collapse of the Berlin Wall, 'at once cinematic, intimate and epic' (The Times) - from Granta Best of British novelist Philip Hensher, author of the bestselling The Mulberry Empire. 'Pleasured begins on New Year's Eve, 1988, when a car breaks down on a road connecting West Germany and West Berlin. Inside the car are an unlikely trio - Peter Picker, an Englishman, and the two strangers to whom he is giving a lift, a student who calls herself Daphne and Friedrich Kaiser. The novel tracks their intertwined fates in the year that follows. It is, of course, no ordinary year, and it is not only the Berlin Wall which has collapsed by its end... Distinctive and consistently appealing, Philip Hensher's novels are full of mysteries to be uncovered, lies to collapse, and secrets to be dramatically revealed.' Guardian

The Mulberry Empire

The Mulberry Empire

Author: Philip Hensher Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2003

The bestselling novel from the Man Booker Prize shortlisted author of The Northern Clemency and King of the Badgers. 'The Mulberry Empire' recounts an episode in the Great Game in central Asia - the courtship, betrayal and invasion of Afghanistan in the 1830s by the emissaries of Her Majesty's Empire, which is followed by the bloody and summary expulsion of the British from Kabul following an Afghani insurrection. At its heart the encounter between West and East, as embodied in the likeable, complex relationship between Alexander Burnes, leader of the initial British expeditionary party, and the wily, cultured Afghani ruler, the Amir Dost Mohammed Khan. For those who enjoyed William Dalrymple's 'Return of a King', 'The Mulberry Empire' is a must-read.