Biography of Sally Rooney

Sally Rooney was born in Castlebar, Ireland, as the middle of three children. Her father worked for a telecommunications company, while her mother ran an arts center. She disliked school, but has described her parents as instrumental in her own intellectual and political development. She attended Trinity College, Dublin, and studied English literature before earning a master's degree in American literature. She also joined her university's debate team and won the 2013 European University Debating Championship. In "Even If You Beat Me," an essay about university debate published in the Dublin Review, Rooney discussed the problems and dilemmas of high-level debating.

That 2015 essay prompted Rooney's career as a novelist, causing an agent to seek out fiction from Rooney. Subsequently, she published her first novel, Conversations with Friends, which she had written while working towards her master's degree, in 2017. Conversations with Friends was a 2018 nominee for the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize and the Folio Prize. Her second novel, Normal People, was released the following year. Both novels were internationally popular, causing Rooney to be praised as a voice of the millennial generation. Normal People was nominated for a slew of awards, and won many. It was longlisted for the Booker prize and named the Irish book of the year, among others. Her third novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You, will be released in the fall of 2021.

Both Conversations with Friends and Normal People center around young people in artistic and intellectual circles in contemporary Ireland. While their plots handle individuals' social and romantic struggles, Rooney contextualizes these struggles within broader themes of class, gender, and sexuality. She has described herself as a Marxist, and her novels, while they discuss the intellectual and social struggles of individuals, contextualize those struggles within broader conversations about class and inequality. Her style has been described as spare and witty, and despite her contemporary settings, some critics—and Rooney herself—have noted that they have stylistic forbears in the British novelists of the nineteenth century.

Rooney writes short stories as well as essays and novels. Normal People grew out of her short story "At the Clinic," published in the literary magazine The White Review in 2016. Rooney's short story "Mr. Salary," meanwhile, was shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award. She is also an editor of the Irish literary magazine The Stinging Fly, in which she published several poems as a teenager.

Rooney now lives in Dublin with her partner, a math teacher. She was credited as a writer and producer in the 2020 TV adaptation of Normal People, and is slated to serve in the same roles for an upcoming adaptation of Conversations with Friends, to be released in 2022.

Study Guides on Works by Sally Rooney

Beautiful World, Where Are You is Irish author Sally Rooney’s third novel, published in September 2021. Not coincidentally, it is the story of an Irish novelist who bears a more than slight resemblance to her creator. The story covers the...

In her debut novel entitled Conversations with Friends (2017), Irish author Sally Rooney tells the story of two female college students who start a rather strange and unorthodox relationship they start with a seemingly happily married couple. Both...

Normal People, the 2018 novel by the Irish novelist Sally Rooney, tells the story of a romance between two young people in contemporary Ireland. The novel was received extraordinarily well by both critics and readers, garnering Rooney an...