An insightful and affectionate look at modern cricket and its appeal by a historic team of cricket-obsessed writers, including brothers Tom and James Holland, William Fiennes, Alex Preston, Kamila Shamsie, professional-cricketer-turned-author Ed Smith, historians Matthew Parker and Thomas Penn and Dan Stevens, star of Downton Abbey.
Cricket has perhaps held more writers in its thrall than any other sport: many excellent books have been written about it, and many great authors have played it. The Authors Cricket Club used to play regularly against teams made up of Publishers and Actors. They last played in 1912, and include among their alumni such greats as PG Wodehouse, Arthur Conan Doyle and JM Barrie. A hundred years on from their last match, a team of modern-day authors was assembled to continue this fine literary and sporting tradition in a nationwide tour in search of the perfect day's cricket.
The Authors XI is the story of their season.
Over the course of a summer they played over a dozen matches, each one carefully chosen for capturing an aspect of cricket, in some of England's most spectacular and historic grounds and against a wide range of opponents. Each player contributes a chapter about one of their fixtures, using a match report as a starting point for an essay on cricket and its appeal, both historically and today.
From Matthew Parker on cricket and empire and Kamila Shamsie on the women's game, to Tom Holland on cricket and ageing and Thomas Penn on cricket and history, this is an engaging look at cricket's enduring appeal.
Richard Beard has published five novels, most recently Lazarus is Dead. He is Director of The National Academy of
Writing, and a judge for the inaugural Costa Short Story Award, 2012.
Charlie Campbell is captain of the Authors XI. Off the pitch, he is a literary agent and the author of Scapegoat: A
History of Blaming Other People. This was his first season as the captain of any sporting side.
Sam Carter is Editorial Director of Biteback Publishing. Born in London, he spent most of his childhood in East
Sussex. He read Modern History at University College, Oxford, and has enjoyed a career in London publishing,
tinkering with fiction and non-fiction of all genres, after a happy decision to call time on a law career.
Sebastian Faulks has written more books than anyone can remember. They include A Possible Life, Human Traces,
The Fatal Englishman and Birdsong.
Dr Peter Frankopan divides his time between being an Oxford don, an international hotelier and President of the
Croatian Cricket Federation. Having played tennis against Tim Henman at Wimbledon, and with Blues from both
Oxford and Cambridge, his appearance for the Authors XI at Lord's in the 2012 season completed another leg of his
personal sporting Grand Slam.
Nicholas Hogg is vice captain of the side and the author of two novels, Show Me the Sky and The Hummingbird and
the Bear. He has won numerous short story prizes, including the Bridport, Raymond Carver and New Writing
Ventures contests, and his work has also been broadcast by the BBC.
James Holland is a historian of the Second World War, whose books include the best-selling Battle of Britain and
Dam Busters. He has also written a number of wartime novels and has written and presented several BAFTA shortlisted
films for the BBC. He has also lectured to the MCC at Lord's.
Tom Holland is a prize-winning historian, whose books - Rubicon, Persian Fire, Millennium and Shadow of the
Sword - cover the rise and fall of ancient empires. He has made documentaries for both the BBC and Channel 4, and
presents Radio 4's Making History. His translation of Herodotus will be published by Penguin Classics in 2013. His
first six, hit while playing for the Authors XI, has become a Twitter sensation and has already featured in The Evening
Standard as one of the big sporting stories of the summer of 2012.
Jon Hotten is the author of Muscle and The Years of the Locust (both Yellow Jersey), and writes the popular cricket
blog, The Old Batsman.
Anthony McGowan is a multi-award-winning author of books for adults, teenagers and younger children. He was
born in Manchester, brought up in Yorkshire, and lives in London. The film of his YA novel, The Knife that Killed
Me, is out in 2013. Once a dashing opening batsman and snaking outswing bowler, he now propels gentle off spin, and
longs only to top the 99 he scored against Mirfield in the West Riding League in 1984.
Mirza Waheed was born and brought up in Kashmir. His debut novel The Collaborator was shortlisted for the
Guardian First Book Award, the Shakti Bhat Prize, and the Desmond Elliott Prize. Waheed has written for the BBC,
the Guardian, the New York Times and Al Jazeera English.
Matthew Parker is a historian who now bowls almost as slowly as he writes and he would love to be faster at both.
He is the author of Monte Cassino, Hell's Gorge and most recently The Sugar Barons.
Thomas Penn is the author of Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England. He holds a PhD in medieval history from
Clare College, Cambridge. He writes for, among others, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and the London Review of
Alex Preston is the bestselling author of This Bleeding City and The Revelations. He is a regular panellist on BBC2's
The Review Show and writes for the Observer and the New Statesman. His next novel has a section charting high octane
cricketing adventures in war-torn Europe.
Amol Rajan is Editor of independentvoices.com, a columnist for the Independent titles and Evening Standard, and
author of Twirlymen: The Unlikely History of Cricket's Greatest Spin Bowlers.
Kamila Shamsie has written five novels including Burnt Shadows, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and
translated into more than 20 languages. She grew up in Karachi watching cricket, but not playing it. The Authors XI
Ed Smith is an author, journalist and broadcaster. He was formerly a professional cricketer for Kent, Middlesex and
England. His most recent book is Luck: What It Means and Why It Matters.
Dan Stevens, while an aspiring author, is really an actor, best known for playing Matthew Crawley in the ITV series
Downton Abbey. He is Editor-at-Large for the online quarterly The Junket, publishes a regular column in the Sunday
Telegraph, and was a judge on the panel of the 2012 Man Booker Prize.
Andy Zaltzman is the co-star of the global hit satirical podcast The Bugle. He has appeared on several Radio 4 shows,
stars alongside Al Murray on 7 Day Sunday on 5 Live, and can be seen very sporadically on television. He writes The Confectionery Stall blog for ESPNCricinfo.com, and in 2008, wrote his first book, Does Anything Eat Bankers?, a comedic response to the credit crunch, in a bold effort to claim the prestigious Most Infantile Tome Ever Written About Economics title.
Published by Bloomsbury, 6 June 2013
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