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Nigel Cliff

Non-fiction writer

Nigel Cliff is an acclaimed nonfiction writer specialising in cultural history and the history of exploration. His first book, The Shakespeare Riots (Random House, 2007), recounted a tragicomic feud between two nineteenth-century actors – revolving around their abilities in Shakespearean roles – that led to thirty deaths in New York.

The Last Crusade: the epic voyages of Vasco da Gama (Harper, 2011) set the discovery of the sea route to India in the context of the long global rivalry between Christianity and Islam. Moscow Nights (Harper, 2016) told the story of the inaugural Tchaikovsky competition, held in Moscow in 1958, and the young Texan pianist whose upset victory made him a key player in the Cold War.

Nigel is also the author of an original translation and critical edition of Marco Polo’s Travels (Penguin Classics, 2015), as well as commissioned screenplays based on his work. His books have been finalists for the US National Book Critics Circle award and National Prize for Arts Writing and the UK Pen Hessell-Tiltman award. They have been named books of the year by the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe and translated into eight languages.

Nigel began his career as a theatre and film critic on the Times and a contributor to the Economist, and currently reviews for several publications including the New York Times Book Review. He is a Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford, and lectures widely. He lives in London with his wife, the ballerina Viviana Durante, and their son, Orlando.

Nigel Cliff


Oxford Brookes University 2017-19
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