From Bestsellers to Blockbusters: Star Writer Nick Hornby to Visit Dickinson

Nick Hornby visits Dickinson as the 2024 recipient of the Stellfox Award.

Award-winning author, screenwriter to arrive Feb. 20

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Whether writing about sports, songs or self-discovery, Nick Hornby crafts narratives that captivate millions of readers and viewers. On Feb. 20 and 21, the award-winning author and Oscar-nominated screenwriter will visit campus and share his professional advice.

Hornby comes to Dickinson through the college’s Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program, which brings major literary figures to campus each year. Honorees interact with students in small groups, deliver a public reading and accept Dickinson’s Stellfox Award.

The author-screenwriter’s acclaim spans both decades and genres.

On sports, music and growing up

As a prose writer, Hornby is famed for best-sellers that were later adapted into star-studded films. Hornby’s 1992 book Fever Pitch, about the author’s relationship to English football, garnered the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award and was made a Penguin Modern Classic. It was reimagined as a U.K. film starring Colin Firth and later as a 2005 U.S. film headlined by Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore.

His 1995 cult classic High Fidelity was made into a 2000 movie starring John Cusack, a 2005 Broadway musical and a 2020 Hulu series headlined by Zoe Kravitz. The coming-of-age romance About a Boy (1998) was adapted into a 2002 movie starring Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult.

Additional novels include How to Be Good (2001), which won the W.H. Smith Award for Fiction, and the 2005 novel Long Way Down, later made into a 2014 movie starring Pierce Brosnan, a Rose-Walters awardee and Dickinson Commencement speaker.

Oscar-nominated screenplays

As a screenwriter, Hornby is best known for his adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's Wild and his Oscar-nominated works An Education (2009, original screenplay) and Brooklyn (2015, adaptation).

He is also a respected music and book critic and pop-culture writer for The Times Literary Supplement (U.K.) and The New Yorker, among many other publications, and has penned well-received books about music.

Gearing up

This excellence across genres is key to Hornby’s selection as the 2023-24 Stellfox Awardee, says Susan Perabo, professor of creative writing. “We like the fact that students with varying disciplines and interests—writers of all kinds, of course, but also musicians, athletes and students in media studies—will be enthused about the opportunity to interact with him,” she says.

To that end, literature and creative-writing students have been learning about a variety of Hornby’s works in class. Student-athletes and coaches on the men’s and women’s soccer team will soon receive a free copy of Fever Pitch to prepare for Hornby’s residency. And students across majors will soon have a chance to meet with Hornby through small-group classroom visits, meetings and meals and through Hornby’s Feb. 21 reading and Q&A.

The Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program is named in honor of the parents of Jean Louise Stellfox '60. Jean met the poet Robert Frost during his 1959 visit to campus. Inspired by that experience, she became an English teacher and left the bulk of her estate to Dickinson to make similar experiences available to current and future students. Last year’s Stellfox Awardee was Poet Laureate Ada Limon; view the full list of past recipients.


Published February 16, 2024