Irish novelist and journalist Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in Ireland in 1955 and was educated at University College Dublin where he read History and English. After graduating, he lived and taught in Barcelona, a city that he later wrote about in Homage to Barcelona (1990). He returned to Ireland and worked as a journalist before travelling through South America and Argentina. He is the author of a number of works of fiction and non-fiction and is a regular contributor to various newspapers and magazines. He was awarded the E. M. Forster Award in 1995 by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
His first novel, The South (1990), set in Spain and rural Ireland in the 1950s, is the story of an Irish woman who leaves her husband and starts a relationship with a Spanish painter. It was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and won the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for First Book. Eamon Redmond, the central character in The Heather Blazing (1992), is a judge in the Irish High Court, haunted by his own past and the history of modern Ireland. The book won the Encore Award for the best second novel of the year. His third novel, The Story of the Night (1996), is set in Argentina during the Falklands War.
His most recent novel, The Blackwater Lightship (1999), describes the uneasy relationship between a grandmother, her daughter and granddaughter, brought together by a family tragedy. The book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction.
His non-fiction includes The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe (1994) and The Irish Famine (1999) (with Diarmaid Ferriter). He is editor of The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction (1999). His new book, Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar (2002), consists of a number of essays some of which had previously been published in the London Review of Books. In 2002 he became a Fellow at the Centre for Scholars and Writers at New York Public Library, enabling him to research the life of Irish dramatist Lady Augusta Gregory for his book Lady Gregory's Toothbrush (2002). His latest novel, The Master (2004), is a portrait of the novelist Henry James, and was shortlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
Colm Toibin lives in Ireland.