Natalie Haynes

  • Writer

  • Stand Up For The Classics - BBC R4

  • Classicist

  • Secret Knowledge: The Body Beautiful - BBC

Natalie Haynes is a writer and broadcaster. Her first novel, The Amber Fury, was published to great acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, as was The Ancient Guide to Modern Life, her previous book. Her second novel, The Children of Jocasta, was published in 2017. Her retelling of the Trojan War, A Thousand Ships, will be published in May 2019.

She has spoken on the modern relevance of the classical world on three continents, from Cambridge to Chicago to Auckland.

She writes for the Guardian. She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4: reviewing for Front Row and Saturday Review, appearing as a team captain on three seasons of Wordaholics, and banging on about Juvenal whenever she gets the chance. Four series of her show, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics, is broadcast on Radio 4.

Her documentary on the Defining Beauty exhibition at the British Museum, Secret Knowledge: The Body Beautiful aired in 2015 on BBC4 in the UK and on BBC World News everywhere else. She was a judge for the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction, the 2013 Man Booker Prize, and the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

Radio

Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2014, and the fourth series aired in 2018.

Stand Up For The Classics

Natalie’s documentary on Greek Tragedy and soap opera, Oedipusenders, was broadcast on Radio 4 in April 2010. She then made Attila the Hen, about urban chicken keeping, in 2011, and Vampires vs Zombies examining the metaphorical role of our monsters du jour.

She presented With Great Pleasure, about the books which have shaped her life, on Radio 4. She crowbarred Juvenal, her favourite ancient comedian, into an episode of Great Lives in 2012. She also presented Ecce Fife, about the revival of Latin teaching in a part of Scotland once known across Europe for its Latinist writers, in August 2013.

Natalie has appeared on Woman's Hour, You and Yours, A Good Read, and What's The Point Of...? and she has been a panellist on Banter, Quote Unquote, Personality Test, We've Been Here Before, and Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive, all on Radio 4. She has been a regular panellist on every series of Wordaholics (the panel show about words).

She reviews the arts for Front Row and Saturday Review, and presents the sci-fi/horror strand, The 7th Dimension, on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Natalie wrote and presented Laughing Matters, a documentary about comic writers from Jessica Mitford and Dorothy Parker to Fran Lebowitz and Cynthia Heimel, also for Radio 4, in May 2005. Her second documentary, Classical Comedy, about how modern comedians stole all their jokes from Aristophanes, Juvenal and Martial, was broadcast on Radio 4 in October 2006.

Her stand-up has been featured on Political Animal, 28 Acts in 28 Minutes, and Loose Ends on Radio 4, as well as on BBC 7's Spanking New. She has also appeared in the Radio 4 Pick of the Fringe in 2004 and 2005.

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Books

Natalie’s first novel, The Amber Fury, was published in 2014, by Corvus. It was published in the US by St Martin’s Press under the title, The Furies. It has so far been translated into Dutch, Spanish, Italian and Chinese. It is a contemporary retelling of Aechylus’ Oresteia, set in Edinburgh and London. Her second novel, The Children of Jocasta, reworked the Theban plays by Sophocles (with a bit of help from Euripides). It was published in 2017 in the UK and 2018 in the US. Her new novel, A Thousand Ships (which retells the story of the Trojan War, its causes and its consequences, from the perspectives of its women) will be published by Pan Macmillan in May 2019.

Her book on classics and the modern world, The Ancient Guide To Modern Life, was published in the UK by Profile Books in November 2010. It was published by the Overlook Press in the US in May 2011. The Spanish edition, Una Guia de la Antiguedad Para La Vida Moderna, was published by Ares y Mares in June 2011, and the Greek edition came out in 2012. Here she is speaking to 2200 Chicagoans at Chicago Ideas Week. Her live appearances – combining her previous career as a stand-up comic with her knowledge as a classicist - have taken her from giving The Voltaire Lecture in Bloomsbury to Emory University in Atlanta, via Manchester, Cheltenham, New York and Chicago. In 2015, she added New Zealand (Dunedian and Auckland) to her speaking CV, appearing eight times across two book festivals.

Natalie's children’s book, The Great Escape, was published by Simon & Schuster in September 2007. It won a PETA Proggy Award, for best animal-friendly children's book, in 2008. She contributed an essay to Fifty Shades of Feminism, published by Virago in March 2013, and an essay for An Atheist's Guide To Christmas, profits of which go to the Terrence Higgins Trust. She also wrote an essay for Serenity Found, a book about Joss Whedon's television show, Firefly, edited by Jane Espenson, which was published in autumn 2007 by BenBella Books.

She judged the Man Booker Prize in 2013, the Orange Prize (now the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction) in 2012, The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2014, and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

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Photos

Journalism

Natalie writes for The Guardian and many other publications. She was a guest contributor for The Times from 2006–2010, and for several years The Independent after that. She wrote the fortnightly TV Detectives blog for The Guardian, and has written for The Observer, New Statesman, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, Evening Standard and others.

Television

Natalie made a documentary in 2015 about the ideals of beauty in Ancient Greece for BBC4. She was a regular panellist on BBC2's The Review Show and its predecessor, Newsnight Review. She also appears in various documentaries on film, comedy and other random things.

She does the odd panel show, like BBC 4's The Book Quiz, and their Poetry Special alongside Andrew Motion and George Szirtes, and talking about war films with Al Murray and Matthew Sweet.

She is also a paper reviewer for Sky News and BBC News.

In 2008, Natalie presented a documentary about using comedy in the classroom for Teachers' TV.