John Harvey

John Harvey has been a professional writer since 1975 and now has more than 100 published books to his credit. 

Principally known as a writer of crime fiction, the first of his Charlie Resnick novels, Lonely Hearts, was named by The Times as one of the 100 most notable crime novels of the last century. His books have won major prizes in Great Britain, France and America, and in 2007 he was the proud recipient of the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for Sustained Excellence in Crime Writing.

He has also written for television and radio and, a published poet himself, between 1977 and 1999 ran Slow Dancer Press, publishing work by such writers as Lucille Clifton, Sharon Olds and Carol Ann Duffy.


‘Coolness and smoothness have always been the twin trademarks of John Harvey’s poetry, but I detect in these new poems a tenderness and warmth that make the writing even more worthwhile. From the heart, now, as well as the hip.’ — Simon Armitage

'Many English writers try hard to create a genuinely transatlantic feel to their work. John Harvey is one of the very few who succeed, and the results are marvellous.' — Ian McMillan

'Harvey is a fine poet. What is perhaps most striking ... is Harvey’s extraordinary empathy. His insights into the minds and hearts of others – there is a tenderness here that many British poets do not risk.' — John Burnside

Review of John Harvey’s Out of Silence in London grip:


Off the street for coffee
Bill Withers all the way
From perfume counter
to restaurant, lovely day,
lovely day, lovely day

It takes a lot to impress me!
you say to me who spent
nearly two years trying.

a beach of broken coral
like fine white sand

outside they have flooded the square
from Debenhams to the columns
that float before the Council House,
displaced pigeons squabble over
Pizzaland and jeered on by his mates
a skinny youth lifts both arms
high above his orange mohican
and executes a perfect dive
down through the maze
of multi-coloured fish

I drive north and park
overlooking these so ordinary
English fields

the car stereo is playing
your letter left behind
through the closed windows
the sun is warm and false
as memory: up there on the hill
snow is packed hard
against hedges and walls
if I climbed to the ridge
and followed the line to where
the trees fold I would come
to the place you left behind

you circle the world
in search of the perfect beach
while I stay here another hour
not strong enough even to stare
into the water’s face


(from The North 2)

Titles by this author

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