Gordon Burn was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1948 and brought up in a working-class household. He began his career as a journalist, writing for publications including the Guardian, Rolling Stone and Esquire, and becoming renowned as an interviewer and feature writer.
Gordon was the author of four novels: Alma Cogan (winner of the Whitbread First Novel Prize), Fullalove, The North of England Home Service and Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel. He was also the author of the non-fiction titles Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son, Pocket Money, Happy Like Murderers, On the Way to Work (with Damien Hirst) and Best and Edwards. His last book, Sex & Violence, Death & Silence, was a collection of his essays on art.
Gordon Burn belonged, and felt himself to belong, to an American tradition born in the High Sixties. A lover of Capote, Mailer and New Journalism, in his career as a writer, Gordon applied the rigour and tenacity of a reporter and journalist to what was often a fictional template.
A literary polymath, Gordon Burn wrote about subjects as seemingly disparate as serial killers, celebrity, sport and art, often blurring the line between fact and fiction. He carved out a unique place for himself in contemporary British writing, often responding to real, spectacular, sometimes appalling events.
An art expert, Gordon counted many writers and artists amongst his friends, while remaining deeply suspicious of the establishment which made access difficult to those from backgrounds like his own. The prize founded in Gordon’s name aims to recognise brilliant writing that often finds its readers outside the mainstream and acknowledge the extent of his influence on subsequent generations of writers.
You can read more about Gordon Burn’s work and life on the Gordon Burn Trust website and in the Guardian.