Will Self

Will Self

Infobox Writer
name = Will Self

imagesize = 300
caption = Will Self
pseudonym =
birthdate = Birth date and age|1961|9|26|df=yes
birthplace = London, England
deathdate =
deathplace =
occupation = Writer, Journalist
nationality =
period =
genre =
subject =
movement =
influences = J. G. Ballard,
William Burroughs,
Hunter S. Thompson,
Martin Amis
influenced =

website = http://www.will-self.com/

William Self (born 26 September, 1961) is an English novelist, reviewer and columnist. He received his education at the independent University College School, Christ's College Finchley and Exeter College, Oxford. He is married to journalist Deborah Orr.

Self is known for his satirical, grotesque and fantastical novels and short stories set in seemingly parallel universes.

Personal life

Will Self was raised, in his words, in "an effortlessly dull" North London suburb by"intellectually snobbish parents". Self's father was a professor in Political Sciences at the London School of Economics, and his mother who was a Jewish-American émigré. Self is Jewish, albeit not practising. [ [http://www.newstatesman.com/200107090044 New Statesman 9 July 2001] ] Despite the intellectual encouragement given by his parents, Self was an emotionally confused and self-destructive child, harming himself with cigarette ends and knives before getting into drugs in his teenage years. [ [ "Living Will"] ] As mentioned on an episode of "Have I Got News For You", he attended University College School with Hugh Dennis where they played Rugby together.

Self was a voracious reader from a young age. At ten an interest into science fiction grew, with notable works such as Frank Herbert's "Dune", J. G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick reflecting the precociousness of Self's reading. Into his teenage years, Self claimed to have been "overawed by the canon", stifling his ability to express himself. Nevertheless, Self's dabbling with illegal drugs grew analogous to his vehement reading. By nine he had a taste for alcohol, at thirteen he was smoking marijuana. By the time Self was eighteen his tastes had extended into the realm of heroin. However, Self still won a place at Exeter College, Oxford where he read philosophy.

His reasons for not studying English, as one may assume, were covered by Self in an interview with the Guardian.

"I [had] a pretty thorough grounding in the canon, but I certainly didn't want to be involved with criticism. Even then it seemed inimical to what it was to be a writer, which is what I really wanted to be."cite news|last=Wroe|first=Nicholas|title=Addicted to transmogrification|publisher=The Guardian|date=2001-06-02|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4196343,00.html|accessdate=2007-02-09]

Self was addicted to heroin in the past, but has abstained from all drugs except caffeine and nicotine since 1998. [http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/12/07/features/self.php "Will Self's slow walk into downtown New York" International Herald Tribune, 7 December 2006] ]

He currently lives in Stockwell, South London,http://download.guardian.co.uk/sys-audio/Books/Books/2007/06/15/WillSelf.mp3] and has written about hikes he has taken around the city, of distances up to 100 miles. In December 2006, he walked 26 miles from his home in South London to Heathrow Airport. Upon arriving in the United States, he walked a further 20 miles from Kennedy Airport to the Crowne Plaza in Manhattan. He has described himself as a modern flâneur. [cite news|url=http://www.electricroulette.com/2008/04/new-releases-21.html|title=New releases, 21st April, with Will Self|last=Self|first=Will|date=2008-04-21|work=Electric Roulette|accessdate=2008-09-15]


Self has been twice married. He was married to Katherine (Kate) Sylvia Chancellor, from 1989 to 1997. Kate is a daughter of John Chancellor [John Chancellor, who is not the late English artist (1925-1984) nor the American broadcast journalist, is the elder son of the late Sir Christopher Chancellor (1904-1989)] ] by his first wife Hon. (Mary) Alice Joliffe (herself daughter of William Jolliffe, 4th Baron Hylton and a great-granddaughter of H.H. Asquith, British Prime Minister in the early 20th century). Kate is also the older sister of actress Anna Chancellor, and the niece of journalist Alexander Chancellor. They have two children, a son Alexis and a daughter Madeline. [ Burke's Peerage entry for Paget. Bt., of Cranmore. One [http://www.nndb.com/people/933/000140513/ database entry] , which provides the names of his wives and marriage dates, also says that his sons Alexis and Luther are by his first wife Katherine Sylvia Chancellor, and his youngest son Ivan and a daughter are by his second and present wife Deborah Orr] . "This contradicts the statement in the article above."] . (Katherine is now married to chef Rowley Leigh)

In 1997 Self married Deborah Jane Orr, [ [http://www.nndb.com/people/933/000140513/ "Ibid." and [http://media-imdb.com/name/nm1107102/bio Imdb entry] ] a journalist, with whom he has two sons called Ivan and Luther.


Will Self has made several appearances on British television, notably as a contestant on "Have I Got News for You" (as of 2007 he has made nine guest appearances, a record for people who haven't been host of the show), as a regular on "Shooting Stars" and "Grumpy Old Men", a guest appearance on "Satisfied Fool" and a full episode of "Room 101". He gained a degree of infamy in 1997 when he was sent by the British broadsheet "The Observer" to cover the electoral campaign of John Major, and was subsequently fired from the newspaper after taking heroin on the Prime Minister's jet.

His Psychogeography column appears in the magazine section of the Saturday edition of "The Independent". He has also written for the "New Statesman" and "Prospect" magazine.

Literary style

Like Salman Rushdie, Will Self loads his fiction with references and allusions to modern culture (both high and low)Fact|date=June 2007. The influences on his fiction mentioned most frequently include J.G. Ballard, William Burroughs and Hunter S. Thompson often not for purely literary reasons. Alongside these he has citedFact|date=June 2007 such diverse writers as Jonathan Swift, Alasdair Gray, Franz Kafka, Lewis Carroll, Joseph Heller and Louis-Ferdinand Celine as formative influences on his writing style. Martin Amis is often mentioned alongside Self; Self went to interview him but they ended up having more of a discussion about each other's work and lives — it is known that they have tremendous respect for each other.

Zack Busner is a recurring character in the fiction of Will Self, appearing in the short story collections "The Quantity Theory of Insanity", "Grey Area", "Dr. Mukti and Other Tales of Woe", as well as in the novels "Great Apes" and "The Book of Dave". Busner is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst practicing in London, and is prone to self-promotion at the expense of his patients. He is often the antagonist of the stories he appears in, although not always with villainous intent.

Self's works are additionally notable for their linguistic sophistication - specifically their enormous and erudite vocabulary.



*"Cock and Bull" (1992) — the stories of a man and a woman who develop sexual organs of the opposite sex.
*"My Idea of Fun" (1993) — a lonely boy grows up just outside Brighton in a caravan park with his over-sexual mother and Mr Broadhurst who takes the boy on a disturbing and often violent journey.
*"Great Apes" (1997) — a man wakes up in a world where chimpanzees evolved to be the species with self-awareness, while humans are the equivalent of chimps in our world.
*"How the Dead Live" (2000) — an old lady dies, only to be moved to a London suburb where the dead have taken residence.
*"Dorian, an Imitation" (2002) — a modern take on Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray".
*"The Book of Dave" (2006) — Set between 1987 and 2003, against a backdrop of Fathers for Justice protests, it is the story of a London cab driver who suffers a mental breakdown due to failed relationships, estrangement from his son and an obsession with The Knowledge. He writes a book of rantings which he buries, that is discovered 500 years later and used as the sacred text for a religion that has taken hold in the flooded remnants of London.
*"The Butt" (2008) — a man flicks a cigarette butt from the balcony of his apartment while on vacation in a foreign land and soon finds himself enmeshed in the bureaucratic nightmare of native law.

hort fiction

*"The Quantity Theory of Insanity" (short stories) 1991
*" Grey Area" (short stories) 1994
*"The Sweet Smell of Psychosis" (illustrated novella) 1996
*"Design Faults in the Volvo 760 Turbo" (short stories) 1998
*"Tough, Tough Toys for Tough, Tough Boys" (short stories) 1998
*"Dr. Mukti and Other Tales of Woe" (short stories) 2004
*"" (short stories) 2008
*"The Undivided Self: Selected Stories" (short stories) Scheduled 2009


Self has also compiled several books of work from his newspaper and magazine columns which mix interviews with counter-culture figures, restaurant reviews and literary criticism.
* "Junk Mail" (1996)
* "Perfidous Man" (2000)
* "Sore Sites" (2000)
* "Feeding Frenzy" (2001)
* "Psychogeography" (2007)


* Narration on the title "5ml. Barrel" from the album Clear (1995), by Bomb the Bass


*1991: Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for "The Quantity Theory of Insanity"
*1998: Aga Khan Prize for Fiction from The Paris Review for "Tough Tough Toys for Tough Tough Boys"
*2008: Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction for "The Butt"

Self has been shortlisted three times for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award: in 2002 for "Dorian", in 2004 for "Dr Mukti" in "Dr Mukti and other tales of woe" and in 2006 for "The Book of Dave".


"All my work is highly personal; it's more personal than me. You know, reading my books is having a far more intimate relationship with me than having a relationship with me."

"I want to be misunderstood. And the other thing that amuses me is: I don't particularly want to be liked. Nobody goes into the business of writing satire to be liked. Whether I am or am not a nice bloke is neither here nor there. It's not part of the task I've set myself in my art."


External links

* [http://www.will-self.com Official Will Self site]
*imdb name|id=1107102|name=Will Self
* [http://books.guardian.co.uk/authors/author/0,5917,-164,00.html Guardian Books author page: Will Self]
* [http://www.tate.org.uk/tateetc/issue8/artforfiction.htm Will Self article in Issue 08 of TATE ETC. magazine]
* [http://www.csulb.edu/~bhfinney/WillSelf.html The Sweet Smell of Excess: Will Self, Bataille and Transgression] (An essay examining Self's work and parallels with Georges Bataille.)
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/berkshire/features/2004/01/willself.shtml A short interview] : [http://bbc.co.uk BBC]
* [http://www.spikemagazine.com/0597self.htm Interview] : [http://www.spikemagazine.com Spike Magazine]
* [http://archive.salon.com/audio/col/mill/2000/10/19/miller/ Audio Interview (available in Real Audio or mp3)] : [http://www.salon.com Salon.com]
* [http://www.necronauts.org/interviews_will.htm Self interviewed by the International Necronautical Society] (see also INS)
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1390395.stm Transcript of Self's encounter with Richard Littlejohn interviewed on Radio Five Live by Nicky Campbell] : [http://bbc.co.uk BBC]
* [http://books.guardian.co.uk/whyiwrite/story/0,,2075745,00.html Will Self on why he writes]
* [http://www.nerve.com/fiction/self/theprinciple/ "The Principle"]

NAME= Self, Will
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Writer, Journalist
DATE OF BIRTH= 1961-9-26
PLACE OF BIRTH= London, England

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