Biography of Colm Toibin

Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy, a small town in County Wexford, Ireland, on May 30, 1955. His parents, Brid and Michael, were a bookkeeper and schoolteacher, respectively. They highly valued education, and especially literacy, and instilled these values in their son. But Tóibín was a poor student, and struggled to learn to read in his early years. When Tóibín was in his mid-teens, his father died of a brain aneurysm. At this point, his family sent him to a boarding school called St. Peter's College, Wexford to finish out his secondary education. It is around this time that he became a far better student and writer. He continued his studies at University College Dublin, earning a BA in History and English in 1975.

After he graduated, he spent three years in Barcelona, teaching English and writing his first two books, The South and Homage to Barcelona, which were published in 1990. From 1978 to the early 1990s, he worked as a journalist and travel writer, authoring numerous articles and the books Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border and The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe. Since then, he has penned many other books, including Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know, House of Names, The Testament of Mary, Nora Webster, The Empty Family Stories, All a Novelist Needs, Brooklyn, Mothers and Sons, A Guest at the Feast, New Ways to Kill Your Mother, The Blackwater Lightship, and The Master. He has won numerous awards and twice been shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize.

He has taught at universities including Stanford University, Manchester University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Princeton University. He currently teaches in Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and is the Chancellor of Liverpool University.

He currently divides his time between Dublin and the US. He is gay, and has a partner who lives in LA, though he has rarely spoken about him.

In recent years the accomplished novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist, and literary critic has primarily focused his efforts on fiction.

Study Guides on Works by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn is one of Colm Tóibín's most popular and best-known works. Published in 2009, it achieved both critical and commercial success. It was translated into 22 languages, and sold more than a quarter of a million copies. It was longlisted for...