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THE DEATH OF THE POET by n quentin woolf


The Death of the Poet is a daringly honest, transfixing story about being in thrall to someone, being both a victim and a protector, and how early promise can turn into an utterly unrecognisable life. An exploration of violence in love, it’s controversial, devastating, and, in a complicated way, romantic too.


Order your copy via Amazon here.

THE DEATH OF THE POET is a complex and multi-stranded work about love, violence, and the tension between action and inertia. Spanning the whole of the 20th century, it was chosen by Man Booker Prize winner Ali Smith as one of her best debut novels at the Cambridge Literary Festival.


'A daring debut' - The Independent




'The most compelling hurricane of emotions, woven into a story, I have ever read - gripped to the last page.' - Bri Wignall, reviewer








Shiny New Books - The Death of the Poet by N Quentin Woolf. Reviewed by Harriet Devine

The Death of the Poet, a novel


“For all the years I’ve spent trying to figure it out, I have no clue what outrage you thought those words contained…”


When you swear to love, to be faithful, or to do your duty, how does that promise bind you?


West Coast radio host John Knox falls passionately and irrevocably in love with Rachel McAllistair the first time they meet, when a political debate boils over and she punches him. Thrilled by her fire, he pursues her, promising never to leave her.


This promise becomes his burden, as her behaviour whirls out of control. She is abusive and cruel, and yet he stays – even after she does something so awful that both of their lives are changed forever. Increasingly isolated, he struggles to survive – and in doing so, unearths a secret from the battlefields of the First World War.


The Death of the Poet is a daringly honest, transfixing story about being in thrall to someone, being both a victim and a protector, and how early promise can turn into an utterly unrecognisable life. An exploration of violence in love, it’s controversial, devastating, and, in a complicated way, romantic too.


NQW’s writing is represented by Ed Wilson at Johnson & Alcock: A Literary Agency.


The Death of the Poet is published by Serpent’s Tail








“Woolf demonstrates great authorial range and has produced a novel that is by turns darkly comic and lightly disturbing, conjuring a romance with enough psychological trauma to leave his readers wondering what might have happened had Love Actually been written by Emile Durkheim during the suicide years.”

- Phillip Clement

Open Pen Magazine

“Incredibly beautiful, even when describing things that would be otherwise upsetting or horrific.”

- Al Terry

“Sad and moving, it’s brilliantly beautiful, very clever and doesn’t shy away from anything. A book of contrasts that is sure to bring controversy and deep discussion. It is deeply personal, you almost feel like you are intruding on their lives, it didn’t stop me reading though, I was desperate to turn each page to find out what would happen.”

- Briony Stebbings

“This book had me gripped, it left me feeling angry, a man just trying to fix things and never quite getting there. When I read the ending my heart sobbed a little… a beautiful and breath-taking novel.
My Mum’s reading it at the moment; her only word was ‘intense’.”

- Hannah Karim

dainty and ivory

“The writing is beautiful, almost poetic, and reminds me of Lolita in some ways.”

- Kariss Ainsworth

“This is, no word of a lie, one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It’s been a while since I just marvelled over the beauty of the language and the quality of the writing in a book. That’s not to say that the other books I’ve been reading haven’t been well written, the majority have been very well written, but something magical happens when an author can write words that sing like poetry, and that’s exactly what N Quentin Woolf does – Astoundingly beautiful.

You’ll be disturbed and you’ll be deeply challenged by this book. It’s dark and it’s beautiful but it’s not always very nice. It’s also captivating and enthralling and you want to know more about this man, about who he is and why he makes the decisions he does. You’ll love him and you’ll hate him and you just won’t understand, but you’ll not want to stop reading.

Painfully, beautifully addictive, I almost want to start reading it again.”

- Laura Pettitt

petitmoi blog

“Explores the issues nobody wants to talk about. … If this book has taught me one thing, it’s to take more notice. Nobody should suffer at the hands of anyone, man or woman, and we should all look out for each other. … Gripping, thought provoking and easy to understand. It makes it simple to understand the characters and feel for them.

Without a doubt I would recommend this book. If you like to get stuck into a novel and are looking for something a little different this summer, look no further than The Death of The Poet.
A wonderful piece of literature.”

- Victoria Bray

“This really is a gorgeous book. It tackles topics that are possibly normally hidden behind closed doors. It covers domestic violence, something that a lot of us may never experience or witness, or something that some of us might have to deal with, and its nice that a book has stepped into that territory and filled almost a gap in the literature.

The writing style is phenomenal and there is nothing else that I can say really. It is written beautifully whilst also tackling morbid, happy, sad, violent, dark and light topics. With the writing style, it almost makes you feel safe, as if the writing style is protecting and saving you from the storyline. Such a complex book.”

- Sarah Clarke

SarahSmiles blog

“Very intense and involved me emotionally… An interesting and compelling read… Gripping…. I definitely enjoyed reading this intense novel.”

- Carolin Schroeter

This is such a beautifully written, delicate, and violent story that I often found myself holding my breath. I loved the book’s two inter-woven narratives: one set in San Francisco and headed up by silver-tongued, sexy radio presenter John Knox; the other about a soldier trapped in the horrors and mud of WW1 and his relationship with a poet. Both men are struggling in different ways with masculinity, violence and their identity, and each is searching for answers, as their stories become increasingly connected.

- Ollymollee

Best read I’ve had in contemporary fiction. WHAT a debut… Ballsy and smart… An easy five stars from me. I can see what all the fuss is about.

- Sean Preston, Editor of Open Pen Magazine

Oh N Quentin Woolf, what have you done? The Death of the Poet is literature, it’s powerful and gut-wrenching and it tore through me.


As the pages unravelled before me, they didn’t revealed a twist or surprise too soon to shatter the all entrancing quality of the writing.


…Woolf has crafted it in a manner that just forces you to read one more page, chapter, until you realise it’s 2am. Then you can’t sleep worrying about the characters.


I’d recommend The Death of the Poet to anyone who is interested in reading now what their grandchildren may still be reading and heralding in years to come.

- Dominic Stevenson

Fantastical Dom


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