Biography of PATRICK McGRATH


Patrick McGrath was born in London in 1950. He grew up on the grounds of Broadmoor Hospital, the largest top-security mental hospital in the UK. His father was the medical superintendent of Broadmoor for twenty-five years.*

He was educated at Stonyhurst College, a Jesuit public school in Lancashire. In 1967 he left Stonyhurst under a cloud. In 1971 he graduated from the City of Birmingham College of Commerce with an honors degree in English and American Literature, awarded externally by the University of London.

Later that year he moved to Penetang, Ontario, where he worked in the Oakridge top-security unit of the Penetang Mental Health Centre. He then moved to British Columbia. There he worked as a kindergarten teacher, a bar-room musician, and a graduate student at Simon Fraser University. Since 1981 he has lived in Manhattan. In 1991 he married the actor and theater director, Maria Aitken.

Patrick McGrath is the author of two story collections and eight novels, including Port Mungo, Dr. Haggard’s Disease and Spider, which he adapted for the screen, and which was filmed by David Cronenberg. It was in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003. His Martha Peake: A Novel of the Revolution won Italy’s Premio Flaiano Prize in 2001, and his 1996 novel Asylum was shortlisted for both the Whitbread and Guardian fiction prizes in Britain. Ghost Town: Tales of Manhattan Then and Now was published in 2005.

His seventh novel, Trauma, was published in 2008. It was shortlisted for the UK’s prestigious Costa Prize and won the Vigevano Award in Italy. His work is translated into more than two dozen languages. An academic conference held in Perpignan, France in May, 2011 was devoted exclusively to his work. Also in 2011 a book-length study of his work, titled Patrick McGrath, by Professor Sue Zlosnik, was published by the University of Wales Press.

His new novel Constance will be published in early 2013.

He is the co-editor of The New Gothic, an influential collection of short fiction. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review. Recent nonfiction includes the introduction to the Oxford World’s Classics edition of Moby Dick and the Folio Society’s edition of Barnaby Rudge.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in the UK, and a member of PEN America and the Writers Guild of America East.

He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Texas at Austin and at Hunter College in New York. For several years he has run a graduate fiction workshop at the New School in New York.

He is married to the actor and theatre director Maria Aitken. He lives in New York.


In 1987 a debut collection of McGrath’s short stories appeared, Blood and Water and Other Tales. It was reviewed warmly in the New York Times. Since then he has written eight novels and a second collection of stories, Ghost Town: Tales of Manhattan Then and Now. McGrath’s books have been published in more than two dozen countries. In Britain he has been short-listed for various awards, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In Italy he has won the Premio Flaiano Prize and the Vigevano Career Award. His novel Asylum, or Follia, dominated Italian best-seller lists on its publication. It has since sold over half a million copiesin that country.

· [footnote, link to A BOY’S BROADMOOR]

McGrath has also co-edited a highly influential anthology of short fiction, The New Gothic, for which he wrote the introduction.He has published many reviews and essays, including introductions to Barnaby Rudge, Moby Dick, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and In a Glass Darkly, short stories by Sheridan Le Fanu.

In 2011 an international conference devoted exclusively to McGrath’s work was held in Perpignan, France. A collection of the papers presented was later published, titled Directions and Transgressions, edited by Jocelyn Dupont.Also in 2011 a book about the author, titled Patrick McGrath, by Professor Sue Zlosnik, came out from the University of Wales Press.

In late 2015 a collection of McGrath’s short fiction and essays, Writing Madness, will be published by Centipede Press with an introduction by Joyce Carol Oates.


Three of McGrath’s novels and one of his stories have been made into films. Two of the adaptations he wrote himself: Spider, which starred Ralph Fiennes and Miranda Richardson, and was directed by David Cronenberg; and The Grotesque, which starred Alan Bates and Sting, and was directed by Jean Paul Davidson. Asylum was adapted by Patrick Marber, directed by David Mackenzie and starred Natasha Richardson and Ian McKellen.

Spider was shown in international competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002.*


McGrath worked at the University of Texas at Austin in the fall semester of 2006. He taught creative writing to both undergraduates and graduate students there. He taught craft courses for several years in the MFA program at Hunter College in New York, and since 2007 has taught a workshop in the MFA program at the New School, also in New York. Currently he is on the writing faculties of both the New School and Princeton University.

· Footnote, link to a Guardian piece about writing movies and going to Cannes.

  • Brute that Slept with Me
  • The End of the Tether
  • New York Times Book Reviews
  • Frankenstein Intro
  • In a Glass Darkly
  • Madhouse
  • On Memory
  • The Monk
  • Theroux Review