Literary Birthday – 12 January – William Nicholson

Happy Birthday, William Nicholson, born 12 January 1948.


  1. My main driving force in writing novels has been to approach the truth of how people are, how they behave and what they feel. As I had C.S. Lewis say in Shadowlands, ‘We read to know we’re not alone.’ I still believe that is true.
  2. The novelist who thinks that “story” is a dirty word had better be a genius.
  3. At the moment the people in my different worlds don’t have much idea of the other things I do. The film world especially has no clue that I’ve written children’s books, adult novels, and plays. What I’d really like is to be up for a film award and literary award in the same year. That would confuse them.
  4. I read to grow in understanding and empathy of other people. And that’s also what drives me as a writer. Part of that is a belief in truth telling. I hold to the view that the more truth you tell, including about yourself however uncomfortable that might be, the more valuable that is to everybody.
  5. My screenplays are done on the basis of asking who is my hero, why should anyone love this person, what do they want, what is stopping them getting it, so how are they going to achieve it, and how can we admire them for achieving it?
  6. Everyone deserves to be the hero of a novel.
  7. Madly, futilely, I wrote novel after novel, eight in all, that failed to find a publisher. I persisted because for me the novel was the supreme literary form – not just one among many, not a relic of the past, but the way we communicate to one another the subtlest truths about this business of living.
  8. My study is a converted garage which is largely lined with bookshelves and cardboard boxes filled with manuscripts of my film scripts, plays, and books.

William Nicholson is a British screenwriter, playwright, and novelist. He has written many screenplays and has been nominated twice for an Oscar – for Gladiator and Shadowlands. His novel for older children, The Wind Singer (The Wind on Fire, Book 1), won the Smarties Prize Gold Award in 2000. His second sequence of fantasy novels was called The Noble Warriors, starting with Seeker. His novels for adults include The Society of Others, Motherland, and The Lovers of Amherst.

Source for photograph: Author’s page (credit, Finn Beales) / Source for quotes 1-5 / Source for quotes 6-8

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 12th January 2018