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02 July 2020

English Alumna publishes debut novel 'This Happy'

Niamh Campbell, who completed a PhD in English at King's College London, has received strong critical acclaim for her debut novel 'This Happy.'

This Happy book cover

This Happy  is about Alannah, who at 23, meets an older man - a married man - and falls in love. Things happened suddenly. They met in April, in the first bit of mild weather; and in August, they went to stay in rural Ireland, overseen by the cottage's landlady.

Six years later, when Alannah is newly married to another man, she sees the landlady from afar. Memories of those days spent in bliss, then torture, return to her. And the realisation that she has been waiting - all this time - to be rediscovered.

The novel has been described as 'an exhilarating coming-of-age story for fans of Sally Rooney' by the Sunday Times and an 'engrossing, heady debut' by the Independent. 



I had the primary ingredients of a man and younger woman in an achingly dull Irish beauty spot at the height of summer, and I knew she was volatilely in love with him but he was starting to regret the whole thing. I started with this, writing what I thought were monologues, then won a bursary to finish the entire project and started developing it full-time. It turned into a novel about the darker side of passion with a side of cynicism, a chance to look at the entire arc of one's twenties instead of a moment in time.

Niamh Campbell, Author

Niamh commenced her DPhil at King's College London in 2011 and received funding from KCL's Continuation Scholarship. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in The Dublin Review, 3:AM, Banshee, gorse, Five Dials, and Tangerine.

She was awarded a Next Generation literary bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland, and annual literary bursaries in 2018 and 2019. She currently works as a postdoctoral fellow for the Arts Council of Ireland at Maynooth University.

The arts and humanities represent the study of thought and the development of richer capacity for thoughtfulness, reflection, and comprehension of the human condition. Without them, you wind up with a society that celebrates mindlessness and sleepwalks into chaos and cruelty because it doesn't understand its own unconscious and destructive motivations. We need to learn to value reflection, tolerance, nuance, humility, and the lessons of history - all of them. They should not be cordoned off for the rich only or treated like something rarefied and decadent: they are vital.

Niamh Campbell, Author

This Happy is published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson and can be ordered here.