Andrew Norman Wilson


Biography of Andrew Norman Wilson

Andrew Norman Wilson (born 27 October 1950) is an English writer and newspaper columnist, known for his critical biographies, novels, works of popular history and religious views. He is an occasional columnist for the Daily Mail and former columnist for the London Evening Standard, and has been an occasional contributor to the Times Literary Supplement, New Statesman, The Spectator and The Observer.

Wilson was educated at Rugby School and New College, Oxford. Destined originally for ordination in the Church of England, Wilson entered St Stephen's House, the High Church theological hall at Oxford, but left at the end of his first year.

In 1971 he married the Shakespeare scholar Katherine Duncan-Jones. They had two daughters - one of whom is Bee Wilson - and divorced in 1990.

In the late 1980s he publicly stated that he was an atheist and published a pamphlet Against Religion in the Chatto & Windus CounterBlasts series; however, religious and ecclesiological themes continue to inform his work. For nearly 30 years he continued to be both a sceptic, and a prominent atheist.

In April 2009 he published an article in the Daily Mail affirming his rediscovery of faith, and conversion to Christianity, attacking at the same time both academic and media atheists.

He has covered his particular slant on biography and, to some extent his take on the Victorian era topics, in God's Funeral and The Victorians, which can be traced to this religious ambivalence. His books on Leo Tolstoy (Whitbread Award for best biography of 1988), C. S. Lewis, Hilaire Belloc, and Jesus Christ are all simultaneously sympathetic to and critical of religious belief. His work, Dante in Love published in 2011, presents a glittering study of the great Italian poet Dante Alighieri, as an artist and philosopher, also depicting an in-depth portrait of medieval Florence in order to make readers understand the literary and cultural background that engendered the Tuscan's masterpiece, The Divine Comedy. His most recent work, The Elizabethans, described as "the exhilarating story of the Elizabethan Age", was also published in 2011.

Wilson has a reputation, gained early in his career, of being a 'young fogey'. He holds controversial views and presents them to entertaining effect, for example in repeated appearances on BBC Radio 4's Any Questions.

His 2007 novel Winnie and Wolf was longlisted for the Man Booker prize. His non-fiction has been widely praised. Kathryn Hughes described his 2002 book The Victorians as "a magnificent achievement: plucky, engaged and full of awe at the way we continue to live out its inheritance today".

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