Hannah, Sophie 1971-

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Hannah, Sophie 1971-


Born 1971, in Manchester, England; married; children: two. Education: Manchester University, B.A., 1993.


Home—Low Utley, West Yorkshire, England. Agent—Peter Straus, Rogers, Coleridge and White, 20 Powis Mews, London, England. E-mail— [email protected].


Writer and poet. Portico Library, Manchester, England, writer-in-residence, 1994-97; Trinity College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts, 1997-99; Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, creative writing lecturer, 1998-2005; Wolfson College, University of Oxford, Oxford, England, fellow, 1999-2001. Also a contributor to television and radio, including television reviewer for Front Row, Radio Four, and The Simon Mayo Show, Radio Five; critic for BBC2's Newsnight Review.


Eric Gregory Award, 1994, for The Hero and the Girl Next Door; first place, Daphne Du Maurier Festival Short Story Competition, 2004, for suspense story "The Octopus Nest."



Early Bird Blues, Smith/Doorstop, 1993.

Second Helping of Your Heart, Crabflower, 1994.

The Hero and the Girl Next Door, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1995.

Hotels Like Houses, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1996.

Leaving and Leaving You, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 1999.

Love Me Slender: Poems about Love, Duffy & Snellgrove (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2000.

(Translator) Tove Jannson, The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My (for children), Sort of Books (London, England), 2001.

(Translator) Tove Jannson, Who Will Comfort Toffle? (for children), Sort of Books (London, England), 2001.

The Box Room (for children), Orchard Books (London, England), 2001.

First of the Last Chances, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 2003.

Selected Poems, Penguin (London, England), 2006.

Pessimism for Beginners, Carcanet (Manchester, England), 2007.


Carrot the Goldfish (children's fiction), Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1992.

Gripless, Arrow, 1999.

Cordial and Corrosive: An Unfairy Tale, Arrow (London, England), 2000.

The Superpower of Love, Soho Press (New York, NY), 2002.

We All Say What We Want (short stories), Sort of Books (London, England), 2007.

The Fantastic Book of Everybody's Secrets (short stories), Sort of Books (London, England), 2008.


Little Face, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2006, Soho (New York, NY), 2007.

Hurting Distance, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2007.

The Point of Rescue, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2007.

Poetry has appeared in anthologies, including The Harvill Book of Twentieth Century Poetry in English, edited by Michael Schmidt, Harvill, 1999; Scanning the Century, edited by Peter Forbes, Penguin, 1999; and The Funny Side, edited by Wendy Cope, Faber & Faber, 1998. Contributor of poems to periodicals including the Times Literary Supplement, Spectator, Independent, Good Housekeeping, Guardian, Times Saturday Review, New Statesman & Society, Mail on Sunday, Observer, and PN Review. Fiction has appeared in anthologies, including More Stories for Five Year Olds, HarperCollins, 1994; Hyphen: Stories by Poets, Comma Press, 2003; Leeds Stories 2, Comma Press, 2004; Bitch Lit, Crocus, 2006; and Ideas above Our Station, Route, 2006. Works have been broadcast on radio, including Everybody's Different, Radio Four, 2002; The Understudy, Radio Four, 2003; and Mushroom Pakora, Radio Four, 2006. Has appeared on and written for television and radio programs, including Stanza, Poetry Please, The Mark Radcliffe Show, You and Yours, A Good Read, Booked, and Open Book. Author's works have been published in foreign countries, including France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Spain, Norway, Turkey, Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania.


Sophie Hannah lives in England and is the author of poetry, children's fiction, novels, and mystery novels. Her book of poetry The Hero and the Girl Next Door was published when Hannah was twenty-four and the author quickly became known for her light verse. In a critical perspective of the author's early work, Contemporary Writers Web site contributor Peter Forbes noted that the author writes primarily about love. He added that "the main interest lies in the backdrop to these affairs: a hilarious melange of lugubrious place names like Shugborough, seedy trains, multiple chain shops like the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, mini-cab drivers, ticket collectors."

Hannah has also written a wide range of fiction, including the children's book Carrot the Goldfish, published in 1992, and her first novel, 1999's Gripless. In 2007, the author's first crime novel, Little Face, was published.

"At the moment, I see myself mainly as a crime fiction writer and a poet—those are definitely the two main strands of my work, and they are my two obsessions as a writer," the author told Jessica Ruston on the Book Bar Web site. "As a reader, I am addicted almost exclusively to crime and mystery fiction, and have been ever since I got hooked on Enid Blyton's ‘Secret Seven’ books as a child." The author added: "I have written a few children's books in the past, and some black romantic comedies, but those feel as if they come from another time (and almost from another person!)."

Hannah's light verse poetry style has been compared to everyone from America's Dorothy Parker and Ogden Nash to Britain's Wendy Cope. In a discussion of the author's poetry collections such as The Hero and the Girl Next Door, Leaving and Leaving You, and Hotels Like Houses, Quadrant contributor John Whitworth wrote: "She is distinctive, nobody writes like her. When you have read a lot of Hannah poems you find your own poetic practice shifting subtly or not so subtly." Whitworth went on to write in the same review: "Light verse indeed! Whenever I see that there's a poem in a magazine by Sophie Hannah I turn to it first. Well, second. She shifts the possibilities of what poetry can do. She is—indeed—a genius."

In a review of the author's 2000 collection of poems Love Me Slender: Poems about Love, Quadrant contributor Alan Gould highly praised the author's poetry. He commented that "the pleasure in her work comes from the play between being involved in, and detached from, the love-situations she describes." Gould added: "Furthermore, she leans towards the formulations popularised in pop songs and the agony columns of magazines, yet in poems like "The Philanderer's Ansaphone Message," "Darling Sweatheart" and … "Occupational Hazard" she resists shopsoiled emotions by the wit and sprightliness of her facility for argument."

The author's next collection of poetry, First of the Last Chances, includes commentary on contemporary life and the complex interactions and strong feelings involved in everyday experience. Commenting on the poems in the collection, Brian Phillips wrote in Poetry: "Their strength is that Hannah has an apparently effortless facility with strict prosody, and a large fund of everyday detail with which to furnish her themes."

The author's 2002 novel The Superpower of Love tells the story of a convoluted group of young professionals—associated by their old English school affiliations—whose lives take a turn towards calamity. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the author "cares so deeply about the nuances of intention, action, and consequence that the reader is dragged … through reams and reams of spiraling gossip."

In addition to Little Face, the author's crime novels include Hurting Distance and The Point of Rescue. The author's first crime novel, Little Face, was called "a hugely promising debut" by Spectator contributor Andrew Taylor. In the novel, the author tells the story of a mother, Alice, who thinks that her baby has been switched when she leaves it for the first time at home with her husband, David, while she goes on an outing. David is adamant that the baby she returns to is their child. When Detective Constable Simon Waterhouse is called to the scene, he is sympathetic but doubtful of Alice's story. Meanwhile, David appears to become increasingly hostile as he claims his wife is either lying or insane. Mary Ann Harlan, writing in the School Library Journal, noted that "it is easy to engage fully in the drama … and close the book completely satisfied." A Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to Little Face as "not quite Hitchcock, but a tautly claustrophobic spiral of a story delivered with self-belief."

In Hurting Distance, Naomi believes her married lover is missing and perhaps has been killed by his wife. Naomi informs the police of her suspicions, but the wife denies that her husband is missing. The police do not believe Naomi, who resorts to another tactic to convince them to search for him, that is, that he may be a danger to other people. In addition to her once secret affair, however, Naomi is living with another secret concerning something terrible that happened to her three years earlier. A contributor to the Bookseller commented: "Hannah constructs her novels like a 19th-century conjuror using smoke and mirrors, until the great reveal."

The Point of Rescue begins with Sally watching a report on television with her husband about the apparent murder suicide of a mother and her daughter. When the husband and father appears on the report, Sally knows that the man calling himself Mark Bretherick is really someone else. She knows because she briefly had an affair with the real Mark Bretherick, who told him all about his wife, Geraldine, and his daughter, Lucy. Sally anonymously informs the police that there's more to the man calling himself Bretherick than he is telling them, and soon policeman Simon Waterhouse is on the case. Chitra Ramaswamy, writing on the Living.scotsman.com, noted: "The Point of Rescue is, like Hannah's other psychological suspense novels, a densely plotted thriller."



Bookseller, May 18, 2007, Naomi Alderman, "Reading for Pleasure: Naomi Alderman: The Judge of the Orange Broadband Award for New Writers on a Baby-Swap Thriller," p. 26; November 16, 2007, "Reading for Pleasure: Emma Jepson: The Borders Non-fiction Buyer and Costa Judge Revels in Sophie Hannah's Twists," p. 32; December 21, 2007, Anna Richardson, "It's a Mystery: Novelist and Poet Sophie Hannah Talks to Anna Richardson about Her Latest Suspense Tale, in Which a Mother's Secret Fling Returns to Haunt Her," p. 19.

Creative Review, October, 2001, "Sophie Hannah," p. 18.

Guardian (London, England), January 14, 2008, Holly Stevenson, "Why Sophie Hannah's Pessimism for Beginners Should Win the T.S. Eliot Prize."

Independent (London, England), August 19, 2007, Anita Seth, "Interview: How Sophie Hannah Switched from Being an Award-Winning Poet to Writing Best-Selling Crime Novels."

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2002, review of The Superpower of Love, p. 124; August 15, 2007, review of Little Face.

Library Journal, July 1, 2007, Marianne Fitzgerald, review of Little Face, p. 77.

Magpies, March, 2002, review of The Box Room, p. 18.

Poetry, June-July, 2004, Brian Phillips, review of First of the Last Chances, p. 235.

Publishers Weekly, August 20, 2007, review of Little Face, p. 46.

Quadrant, September, 1999, John Whitworth, review of Hotels Like Houses, p. 82; September, 1999, review of Leaving and Leaving You, p. 82; September, 1999, John Whitworth, "Leaving Me, Leaving You," p. 82; September, 1999, John Whitworth, review of The Hero and the Girl Next Door, p. 82; May, 2001, Alan Gould, "Shadow Artists," p. 60.

School Librarian, summer, 2002, review of The Box Room, p. 97.

School Library Journal, September, 2007, Mary Ann Harlan, review of Little Face, p. 228.

Spectator, April 29, 2006, Andrew Taylor, "Infant Identity Crisis," review of Little Face. Times Educational Supplement, August 20, 1999, review of Leaving and Leaving You, p. 18; March 15, 2002, review of The Box Room, p. 20

Times Literary Supplement, July 7, 1995, Sarah Maguire, review of The Hero and the Girl Next Door, p. 14; December 20, 1996, review of Hotels Like Houses, p. 25; December 3, 1999, Frederic Raphael, review of Leaving and Leaving You, p. 9; March 28, 2003, Stephen Knight, "Deceased Stays In," review of First of the Last Chances, p. 25.


Book Bar,http://visit.thebookbar.com/blog/ (April 25, 2007), Jessica Ruston, "Interview with Sophie Hannah."

Carcanet Web site,http://www.carcanet.co.uk/ (April 9, 2008), brief profile of author.

Contemporary Writers,http://www.contemporarywriters.com/ (April 8, 2008), biography of author; Peter Forbes, "Critical Perspective."

International Noir Fiction,http://internationalnoir.blogspot.com/ (November 21, 2007), Glen Harper, "A Sophie Hannah Preview," review of The Point of Rescue.

Living.scotsman.com,http://living.scotsman.com/ (February 10, 2008), Chitra Ramaswamy, "Murder Mystery to Die For," review of The Point of Rescue.

Normblog,http://normblog.typepad.com/ (October 3, 2006), "Writer's Choice 70: Sophie Hannah."

Reading Matters,http://kimbofo.typepad.com/readingmatters/ (November 12, 2007), review of Little Face.

Sophie Hannah Home Page,http://www.sophiehannah.com (April 9, 2008).

Tower Poetry,http://www.towerpoetry.org.uk/ (April 9, 2008), C.E.J. Simons, review of Pessimism for Beginners.

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