By Angelina Coppola

Nick Hornby’s much-anticipated novel, Funny Girl, was released this month in the states, adding yet another masterpiece to his astounding body of work. Over the course of the last five years, Hornby has mainly been writing screenplays, including the Oscar-nominated films An Education and Wild, as well as the forthcoming film Brooklyn, based upon Colm Tóibín’s novel.

Set in London during the 1960s, Funny Girl follows Barbara Parker’s transformation from Miss Blackpool 1964 to Sophie Straw, the heroine of the fictional TV show Barbara (and Jim); the show that launches her as a British household name. Inspired by Lucille Ball, Hornby sought to capture the larger-than-life quality of her stardom. Hornby told The Telegraph, “I think the book properly began with a biography of her that I read, which made me think about why there hadn’t really been any English comediennes of that magnitude. It was the invention of a character who existed in this gap that we seem to have.”

Nick Hornby has been a frequent contributor to WordTheatre and has participated in numerous WordTheatre readings to benefit Cure Autism Now, including a monologue read by Ian Hart that was written For Hearts Aflame: An Evening of Love and Hate Letters in London and “Nipple Jesus” read by Richard Hawley (Love Actually, Prime Suspect) at WordTheatre’s Christmas Show for Cure Autism Now.