Neil Hanson
Neil Hanson

All About Neil Hanson

A full-time professional author for over twenty years, Neil Hanson is the author of a series of popular histories, hailed by critics as ‘astonishing’, ‘brilliant’, ‘haunting’, ‘extraordinary’, ‘marvellous’, ‘superb’, ‘superlative’, ‘a triumph’, ‘a masterpiece’ and ranked by one critic alongside ‘Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves and other immortals’. As an anonymous ‘ghostwriter’ and ‘manuscript doctor’, Neil has also written or rewritten over forty other books, including a New York Times No.1 best-seller. He has written and broadcast for national media on three continents and lectured and delivered workshops all over the world.

Neil has worked across almost the full spectrum of writing genres and has acclaimed skills as a communicator. He combines his immense practical experience with the ability to engage with and involve students of all abilities, in a range of different disciplines. He also has a flair for rendering complex ideas and techniques in accessible, comprehensible ways and finding imaginative, innovative ways to help students develop their research and editing skills and bring greater clarity to their written work. A former Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Leeds Trinity and York St John Universities and now an RLF Consultant Fellow, Neil has helped hundreds of undergraduates and school students to improve their academic writing.

Workshops can be of any size from a handful to around 30 pupils. Neil can and does work with secondary students of all ages, but sessions are particularly beneficial for key stages 4 and 5. His own areas of work make his sessions particularly useful for students of English and History. Neil brings books with him and is happy to sign them.

Neil Hanson’s School Visits

Learning Objective: To assist students to make their reading and research more focused and efficient, the editing and revision of their work more precise and to give their writing greater clarity. The workshop involves the participants as a group, in smaller groups and as individuals, in exercises of varying lengths, using different media and across a range of activities: close reading, discussion, writing, analysis, editing. Analysis of images and short texts leads into close reading of a longer extract that is easily accessible at surface level, but contains a wealth of significant detail, leading to deeper semantic, structural and cultural analysis. The lessons learned are then applied in an editing exercise. Although all secondary school students will benefit from the workshop, it is particularly suited to key stage 5 students, helping them to improve their A-level work and prepare for the step up to academic writing at university. 

The format for a days workshop can be tailored to meet any specific requirements but can include:

1. “Constructing a Narrative” Unless you’re studying Maths, Physics and Chemistry, you will have to know – or learn – how to write a narrative. Constructing a Narrative teaches you how to do it: how to create narrative drive, pace, sense of place and characterisation, how to make it interesting enough to keep your reader awake and engaged, what to include and not include and how to revise and edit your work to make it better. The guiding light throughout is my favourite double-negative: “Nothing happens for no reason”.

2. “Writing Historical Lives” and “Writing Living Lives” (often delivered as a two-parter over two sessions) How to bring long dead people back to life, if only on the page and how to breathe fresh life into those whose hearts are still beating. How to choose and research a subject, avoid clichés and stereotypes and, whether writing fiction or non-fiction, create compelling, believable new characters or find fresh ways of portraying sometimes over-familiar non-fiction subjects.

Workshops for year 10-13 students to help develop their academic writing skills.

Reviews & Recommendations

‘A success! I’ve had some very positive feedback from the students who said that your workshop will help them in their coming exams and felt it had been a very useful session.’ Marie-Odile Robbins, Librarian, Brillantmont International School, Lausanne, Switzerland

‘Excellent correlation between session’s clearly stated aims and what was achieved. Teaching materials perfectly chosen and Neil made the most of them; very clear to the students why these materials had been chosen and what they could learn from them. Confident and engaging mix of teaching to topic and broader teaching. Excellent teaching/story-telling combination really showed why a writer brings added value and interest. Calm, controlled delivery laced with humour inspired confidence. Neil really knew his stuff.’ – Katie Grant, Royal Literary Fund

‘An impressive session by any standards. Delivered with confidence and assurance, clearly well planned, prepared and structured, designed to engage and involve the students. Neil kept the session lively and varied and balanced it very well, combining presentation, discussion, written activity, analytical activity, shorter and longer exercises, individual, small group, whole group, etc. The students were continually involved and active. Having worked with them for the past year, I could see how engaged they were with the session and how they responded to Neil’s teaching.’ – Martyn Bedford, Associate Senior Lecturer, Leeds Trinity University

‘Neil was an invaluable resource to our students; I can think of many who he helped. He is a really approachable and friendly colleague and I want to say very plainly, thank you.’ –  Simon Pattison, Lecturer, York St John University

‘Many thanks indeed for a great day. Your presentations and insights into writing were hugely interesting and useful.’ – Jenny Bolton, Head of English, The Grammar School at Leeds

‘Once again, participants spoke very highly of your sessions: “Brilliant!” – “Gratifyingly good workshop with an engaging and knowledgeable leader” – “Lots of good practical tips. I liked Neil’s passion for his subjects – something to emulate and a reminder of why we write” – “Good, well paced, variety of activities – reading, listening, writing. Everything pertinent to the subject. Really enjoyed it” – “Very interesting and useful. He gave helpful and constructive advice”.’ – Paul Hardwick, Professor of English, Leeds Trinity University College

‘I’m really looking forward to Neil Hanson’s next session. Listening to him talk about his experiences reaffirmed for me that writing is what I want to do.’ – Student at Leeds Trinity University College

‘The children had a lovely day yesterday and I’m sure were inspired, I know I was.’ – Head of Year 6, Gill Wainwright, Garswood Primary School

Praise for Neil Hanson’s The Unknown Soldier

‘One might think it is impossible to say anything new about the First World War, but Neil Hanson has taken the lives of three soldiers and with the help of some terrific original research, fashioned not only an almost uniquely compelling narrative of the conflict from the point of view of the soldiers who fought it, but also an exploration of the complex aftermath and the emotional reception the troops got on their return. This is a sobering call away from arms, and it is almost impossible to finish the book without tears in your eyes.’ – Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph, London

‘In Neil Hanson’s prose, the dark ceremonial of Remembrance Sunday has an almost unbearable poignancy… A beautifully illustrated book that has all the sombre grandeur of the Beethoven funeral march.’ – John Crossland, Sunday Times, London.

‘This powerful, painful, unforgettable story. Making brilliant use of poignant, literary letters, Hanson conjures a world that’s hard for the modern reader to fathom… Vivid, sobering and without macho swagger or sentimentality, Hanson lets the voices of the unknowns speak across a bloody century with lessons for the new one.’
Publishers Weekly, USA

‘An unforgettable picture of life in the hottest sectors of the Western Front.’ – William Grimes, New York Times, USA

‘The reader comes to understand that we are coming to take the suffering, the deaths of millions for granted. That is the stunning power of this book. ” The Unknown Soldier” tells you vividly how it felt when the world, then believed to be on a firm foundation, began to stagger and crash.’ – Anthony Day, Los Angeles Times, USA

Praise for Neil Hanson’s The Confident Hope of a Miracle

‘Mr Hanson sees the Armada as an epic drama in which the fate of nations hung in the balance…. He looks at both the Spanish and English stories, rounding out his characters, which become real people and not just names on the page in vivid, visceral prose… His finale is a brilliant summary of the endgame, as vivid and passionate as everything that has gone before. His book is certainly a worthy replacement for Mattingly’s.’ – The Economist, London

Hanson’s narrative is brilliant – melding deep research and page-turning writing. When he deals with the disaster of the Armada’s homeward passage, battling monstrous seas and shipwreck, he reaches dramatic heights that make him the equal of the greats of the past.’ – Sunday Express, London

‘An exceptionally vivid account… Hanson is a narrative historian with all the talents required: a gimlet eye for interesting detail, an ability to convey atmosphere and a storyteller’s instinct for pace. He has written a marvellous book.’ – Daily Telegraph, London

‘Superb… Not only does the author convincingly nail Elizabeth I and Sir Francis Drake as egregious villains but he does so in glowing historical prose.’ – Best Reads of the Year, The Independent on Sunday, London

‘Hanson’s account of the great naval battle off the southern coast of England will thrill fans of C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brian, whose fictional creations would seem to owe much to the Francis Drake the author ably portrays here. The aftermath is just as well told-and just as full of intrigue. Richly detailed, concisely narrated: a superb, myth-shattering portrait of an epochal event.’ – Kirkus Reviews, USA

Praise for Neil Hanson’s The Dreadful Judgement

‘Meticulously researched, utterly fascinating.’ – Simon Winchester in the New York Times.

‘Popular narrative history at its best, well researched, imaginatively and dramatically written … The author marshals his story and his mass of contemporary quotation with great skill.’ – Times Literary Supplement, London.

‘The brilliance of its narrative chapters … a marvellous eye for evocative detail. Hanson’s prose is animated by the ferocious energy of the fire and seems to be guided by its inexorable movement. He creates the literary equivalent of the special effects in a disaster movie. The Dreadful Judgement is so compelling … a rich mixture of imagination and research.’ – Daily Telegraph, London.

To Make a Booking

To make an enquiry about Neil Hanson, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at trevor@caboodlebooks.co.uk

Further information on Neil Hanson is available from his website: www.NeilHanson.co.uk