Hough, Robert 1963–
Hough, Robert 1963–
PERSONAL: Born 1963, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; married; children: two. Education: Queen's University, gradute, 1985.
ADDRESSES: Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Arcade Publishing, 141 5th Ave., 8th Fl., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Journalist and writer.
AWARDS, HONORS: The Final Confession of Mabel Stark shortlisted for Trillium Book Award and Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first book.
The Final Confession of Mabel Stark (novel), Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 2001.
The Stowaway, Arcade Publishing (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to publications, including Toronto Life and Saturday Night.
ADAPTATIONS: The Final Confession of Mabel Stark was adapted for film by Tailor Made Films as The Marvelous Mabel Stark, 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: After working as a journalist for more than twelve years, Canadian writer Robert Hough became interested in the story of tiger trainer Mabel Stark after reading a brief account of Stark's life. Although little information regarding the early-twentieth-century circus icon was available beyond her correspondence and journal entries, Hough became entranced by tales of Stark's daring feats, rebelliousness, and exploits with men. Hough fleshed out Stark's story into the full-length book titled The Final Confession of Mabel Stark. Shortlisted for Canada's Trillium Book Award and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first book, the novel was adapted for film in 2005 by English production company Tailor Made Films.
A Kirkus Reviews contributor called The Final Confession of Mabel Stark "just about perfect" and "one of the most entertaining novels in many a year." In a review for Publishers Weekly, one commentator found that, "rich in the atmosphere of circus life, this graphic, slangy fictional reminiscence also offers some surprising, deft metafictional touches." Denise A. Garofalo, a reviewer for Library Journal, described the book as "a humorous yet compelling story" and an "entertaining tale." Another Library Journal contributor, Andrea Kempf, wrote: "This page-turner not only takes readers into the exotic world of the circus in its heyday but also examines the heart and mind of a unique woman."
Hough's second novel, The Stowaway, is also based on true events. In 1996 news broke of three Romanian stowaways hiding aboard a North-American-bound container ship who were murdered by ship officials, as well as a fourth stowaway who was kept alive in secret by the ship's crewmen. Hough originally followed the story with the intention of writing a nonfiction book. When the surviving stowaway refused to recount his experiences without a sizeable upfront payment, Hough relied once again on fictional license to fully develop the story. On the Random House of Canada Web site, Hough shared his thoughts on writing a second novel based on actual events: "In my more optimistic moments, I tell myself I have used the novel in the way it was used in the days of Dickens or Thackeray: to dissect current events. In my less optimistic moments, I feel that I have, by inventing the central character in a nonfiction storyline, somehow misbehaved."
A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that The Stowaway "is a moving, haunting novel, full of deeply sympathetic portraits of common people being uncommonly brave." Coletta Ollerer, in Reviewer's Bookwatch, noted: "The reader will be gripped by this story of escalating fright…. I read it in a very enjoyable and exciting two days." Booklist reviewer David Pitt commented that Hough "brings the incident to vivid life. It's tricky to turn a real-life story into a novel, but Hough succeeds admirably." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called The Stowaway "a hair-raising story well told with sympathy and respect."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2004, David Pitt, review of The Stowaway, p. 61.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2003, review of The Final Confession of Mabel Stark, p. 105; July 1, 2004, review of The Stowaway, p. 597.
Library Journal, March 1, 2003, Andrea Kempf, review of The Final Confession of Mabel Stark, p. 119; January 1, 2005, Denise A. Garofalo, review of The Final Confession of Mabel Stark (audiobook), p. 167.
Publishers Weekly, January 20, 2003, review of The Final Confession of Mabel Stark, p. 53; September 27, 2004, review of The Stowaway, p. 38.
Reviewer's Bookwatch, May, 2005, Coletta Ollerer, review of The Stowaway.
BookPage, http://www.bookpage.com/ (October 14, 2005), Alden Mudge, "Taming the Tale of Mabel Stark: Canadian Writer Robert Hough Delivers a Rollicking Story of Circus Life."
Random House of Canada Web site, http://www.randomhouse.ca/ (October 14, 2005), author profile.