Robert Harris

Robert Harris Biography, Age, Wife, TV Appearances and Bibliography

Robert Harris Biography

Robert Harris (Robert Dennis Harris) is an English novelist and a former journalist and BBC television reporter. Although he started his career in non-fiction, his fame rests upon his works of historical fiction. Starting with the best-seller Fatherland, Harris focused on events surrounding the Second World War, followed by works set in ancient Rome. His most recent works center on contemporary history.

Robert Harris

Robert Harris Age

Harris was born on 7 March 1957 in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England.

Robert Harris Wife

Harris is married to Gill Hornby, herself a writer and sister of best-selling novelist Nick Hornby. They live in a former vicarage in Kintbury, near Newbury, Berkshire with their four children.

Robert Harris Education

Harris went to Bottesford’s Belvoir High School, and then to Melton Mowbray’s King Edward VII School, where he later named a hall. He wrote plays there and edited the magazine for the school. At Selwyn College, Cambridge, Harris read English literature. Harris was elected president of the Cambridge Union while at Cambridge and editor of the university’s oldest student newspaper, Varsity.

Robert Harris Career

Harris joined the BBC after leaving Cambridge and worked on news programs and current affairs like Panorama and Newsnight. He became The Observer’s political editor at the age of thirty in 1987. He later wrote regular columns for the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times.

The first book by Harris was published in 1982. A Higher Form of Killing was written with fellow BBC journalist Jeremy Paxman, a study of chemical and biological warfare. There followed other works of non-fiction: Gotcha! The Government, the Media and the Falklands Crisis (1983), The Making of Neil Kinnock (1984), Selling Hitler (1986), an investigation into the Hitler Diaries scandal, and Good and Faithful Servant (1990), a study by Bernard Ingham, Press Secretary Margaret Thatcher.

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TV Appearances and Radio broadcasts

In episode three of the first series in 1990, and in episode four of the second series a year later, Harris appeared on the BBC satirical panel game Have I Got News for You. He appeared for the politician Roy Hattersley in the first as a last-minute replacement. On October 12, 2007, seventeen years to the day, after his first appearance, he made a third appearance on the program. Since the gap between his second and third appearance was almost 16 years, Harris enjoyed the distinction between two successive appearances in the history of the show until Eddie Izzard appeared on April 22, 2016, 20 years after his appearance on Series 11 Episode 1 (19 April 1996).

Harris appeared on the radio program Desert Island Discs on 2 December 2010, when he spoke with Tony Blair and Roman Polanski about his childhood and friendships. On February 10, 2012, Harris appeared on the American PBS show Charlie Rose. Harris spoke of his novel The Fear Index, which he likened to a modern Gothic novel along the lines of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Harris also discussed the adaptation of Roman Polanski’s novel, The Ghost which came out as the film, The Ghost Writer.

Work with Roman Polanski

Harris wrote a screenplay for director Roman Polanski of his novel Pompeii in 2007. In many interviews, Harris acknowledged that Polanski’s film Chinatown inspired the plot of his novel, and Polanski said that it was precisely that similarity that attracted him to Pompeii. The film, which will be produced by Summit Entertainment, was announced at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival as the potentially most expensive European film ever made, to be shot in Spain. Media reports suggested Polanski wanted the two leaders to be played by Orlando Bloom and Scarlett Johansson. The film was canceled as a result of a strike by actors looming in September 2007.

Then Polanski and Harris turned to the bestseller of Harris, The Ghost. They co-wrote a script and starring Nicolas Cage, Pierce Brosnan, Tilda Swinton, and Kim Cattrall, Polanski announced filming for the beginning of 2008. The film was then postponed by one year, replacing Cage and Swinton with Ewan McGregor and Olivia Williams. The film, titled The Ghost Writer in all territories except the United Kingdom, was shot in early 2009 in Berlin and on Sylt Island in the North Sea, which respectively stood in for London and Martha’s Vineyard, due to Polanski’s inability to legally travel to those places. Despite his incarceration, he oversaw his house arrest post-production and the film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2010, with Polanski winning the Silver Bear award for Best Director. Later, Harris and Polanski shared a Best Adapted Screenplay César Award.

Harris was inspired by Polanski’s long-standing interest in the Dreyfus affair to write his novel An Officer and a Spy. He also wrote a story-based screenplay that was to be directed by Polanski in 2012. After the initial written on the secret file that secured the conviction of Dreyfus, the screenplay was first titled D. It started filming as J’accuse in November 2018 after many years of production difficulties, featuring Jean Dujardin and co-starring Mathieu Amalric and Olivier Gourmet. Alain Goldman produces it and Gaumont will distribute it.

In June 2018 Harris reiterated his support for Polanski and branded criticisms of Polanski’s crimes as being a problem of culture and fashion “The culture has completely changed…And so the question is: “Do you then say, OK fine, I follow the culture.’ Or do I say: ‘Well, he hasn’t done anything since then. He won the Oscar, he got a standing ovation in Los Angeles.’ The zeitgeist has changed. Do you change with it? I don’t know, to be honest with you. Morally, I don’t see why I should change my position because the fashion has changed.”

Robert Harris Bibliography


  • Fatherland (1992)
  • Enigma (1995)
  • Archangel (1998)
  • Pompeii (2003)
  • Imperium (2006) (Vol 1 of the Cicero Trilogy)
  • The Ghost (2007)
  • Lustrum (2009) (Vol 2 of the Cicero Trilogy, retitled Conspirata for release in US and Italy)
  • The Fear Index (2011)
  • An Officer and a Spy (2013)
  • Dictator (2015) (Vol 3 of the Cicero Trilogy)
  • Conclave (2016)
  • Munich (2017)
  • The Second Sleep (2019)

Short stories

  • PMQ, short story in the collection Speaking with the Angel. London: Penguin, 2 November 2000 ISBN 978-0-14-029678-5


  • Pompeii (2007, unfilmed)
  • The Ghost Writer (2010)
  • J’accuse (2019)


  • A Higher Form of Killing: The Secret Story of Gas and Germ Warfare (with Jeremy Paxman). London: Chatto & Windus, March 1982 ISBN 978-0-7011-2585-1
  • Gotcha! The Government, the Media and the Falklands Crisis. London: Faber and Faber, January 1983 ISBN 978-0-571-13052-8
  • The Making of Neil Kinnock. London: Faber and Faber, 17 September 1984 ISBN 978-0-571-13267-6
  • Selling Hitler: The Story of the Hitler Diaries. London: Faber and Faber, 17 February 1986 ISBN 978-0-571-13557-8
  • Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorized Biography of Bernard Ingham. London: Faber and Faber, December 1990 ISBN 978-0-571-16108-9

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