Amis writes off star lecturer job

Author's New York move spells end of his £80,000 role for 28 hours' work at university

Jonathan Brown
Saturday 22 January 2011 01:00

Brooklyn's gain is Manchester's loss. Or if you number among the many that have failed to fall for the charms of Martin Amis over the years, it could equally be the other way round.

Yesterday it was confirmed that the novelist's forthcoming move to New York meant he will not be renewing his contract as professor of creative writing at Manchester University. Amis will quit his post in the summer.

Since he was appointed four years ago the controversial writer's fortnightly lectures on literary giants such as Vladimir Nabokov and Saul Bellow have been standing-room only despite some internal sniping at his £80,000 a year salary in return for 28 hours of contracted teaching.

Though considered a success by the university, which has hired a number of big-name academics in recent years and now boasts more serving Nobel laureates on the staff than either Oxford or Cambridge, Amis's tenure got off to a typically rumbustious start.

In 2007 he was condemned by fellow Manchester University English professor Terry Eagleton who decried Amis's essay The Age of Horrorism. In it, Amis suggested that "Britain's Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order" and advocated "discriminatory" strip-searching.

Professor Eagleton described his colleague's views as "stomach churning" and lambasted his father Kingsley as a "drink-sodden, self-hating reviler of women, gays and liberals".

The following year the leading Marxist academic was compulsorily retired as part of a series of financial belt-tightening measures employed at the Russell Group university, sparking complaints of ageism. Amis's move abroad has long been rumoured. He put his north London home on the market last year for £4.5m but it failed to sell. It was then reported that he and his American-born wife, the novelist Isabel Fonseca, had bought a $2.5m (£1.6m) mansion in Cobble Hill, an exclusive area of Brooklyn, keenly sought after for its brownstones, park, bars and restaurants. Ms Fonseca said at the time: "I want to go home. I am violently missing my parents."

Amis later confirmed the decision to relocate. "We probably are moving to Brooklyn for family reasons in the summer but we'll keep a flat here," he said.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments