Howard Jacobson was born in Manchester, brought up in Prestwich and educated at Stand Grammar School in Whitefield, and Downing College, Cambridge, where he studied under F. R. Leavis. He lectured for three years at the University of Sydney before returning to England to teach at Selwyn College, Cambridge. His later teaching assignments included a stint at Wolverhampton Polytechnic in the 1970s.

His time at Wolverhampton was to form the basis of his first novel, Coming from Behind, a campus comedy about a failing polytechnic which plans to merge facilities with a local football club. The episode of teaching in a football stadium is the only portion of the novel which is based on a true incident.

His novel The Mighty Walzer, about a teenage table tennis champion, won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic writing. He would later win the prize again for Zoo Time. His next novel, Who’s Sorry Now was the first of four of his novels to be longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, followed by Kalooki Nights. He was awarded the Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question in 2010. His novel, J, was shortlisted for the award in 2014.

He has written several works of non-fiction, including In the Land of Oz and Roots Schmoots which was made into a critically acclaimed Channel 4 Series, as was Seriously Funny: An Argument for Comedy. He wrote a column for The Independent for twenty years, two collections of which have been published under the titles Whatever It Is I Don’t like It and the Dog’s Last Walk.

In 2014 he wrote and presented a two-part documentary Rebels of Oz for Mint Productions and BBC4, in which he examines the cultural impact made by four rebellious Australians: Germaine Greer, Clive James, Barry Humphries and Robert Hughes.
He is a regular presenter of Radio 4’s
A Point of View.

In 2022 his memoir Mother’s Boy: A Writer’s Beginnings was published.

A writer working at the peak of his powers.

Max Liu
The Independent on J


Current Publishers
Learn More