Howard Cunnell

Howard Cunnell is the acclaimed author of The Painter's Friend and Fathers and Sons

'Cunnell's writing has an unforgettable visual and moral clarity'
- Melissa Harrison


Praise for The Painter's Friend:

'Cunnell's style is ultimately matchless; intimate, dark, sincere, wry, and exquisitely beautiful... The Painter's Friend deserves prominence and has earned its place among the best books of the year.'
- The Irish Times


'Bloody Brilliant'
- Olivia Laing, author of Everybody


'What a fine book The Painter's Friend is. At times, a beautiful meditation, at other times the prose ripples with tension and foreboding. Howard Cunnell is a wonderful writer who should be read by everyone.’

- Sarah Winman, author of Still Life


Praise for Fathers and Sons:

'A miracle of a book'
- Sunjeev Sahota

'A unique, and uniquely beautiful book'
- Financial Times

'One of the most good-hearted, big-souled books I've read'
- The Guardian



Manuscript assessment, editing and mentoring.

Here's an idea of what I do. If these services don't cover what you need, get in touch. I'll do my best to help:


1. Manuscript Assessment

I’ll write a 2,000-3,500 word report on the quality of writing, plot, characters, description, storyline and structure etc. I'll offer clear and practical suggestions for key areas to look at in your next edit. A follow up consultation, by email or phone, is included in the cost

£750 for manuscript up to 50k words. £1000 for manuscripts between 50-100k words. Manuscripts longer than 100k words to be costed on an individual basis.


2. Mentoring

For writers working on a full-length fiction or memoir manuscript. The service is bespoke and therefore flexible and intended to suit the writer's individual needs, but the basic template is to offer 9 meetings over a 6 month period. The writer will submit up to 5,000 words to me which I will edit prior to a meeting during which I'll offer feedback and guidance to complement my editorial work. In line with similar services I've costed this model at £2500 but other consultation models - a shorter or longer period of time etc. - can be available.


3. A combination of the above

Send me a manuscript up to 5,000 words and for £450 I will provide a line edit and write a critical report.

This can be open ended - you can send me any piece of writing or writing towards a longer mss. We can repeat the process for as long as it's helpful.



Howard Cunnell has a PhD from the University of London and has been a Leverhulme Fellow at the University of Sussex. Most recently he was a Visiting Adjunct Professor at the University of North Carolina (Charlotte). Since 2003 he has taught Creative Writing at Kingston University, Birkbeck College, UNC (Charlotte) and for five years was a staff member for the Complete Creative Writing Course. He has also worked as Senior Academic Consultant for Mouseion and manuscript editor for The Writer's Workshop.









Howard Cunnell's most recent novel is The Painter's Friend (Picador, 2021), described as 'matchless...exquisitely beautiful' and 'one of the books of the year' (Irish Times). His acclaimed memoir Fathers and Sons (Picador, 2017) was read on BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week, and described as 'unique, and uniquely beautiful' (Financial Times); it explores his experiences as a fatherless man raising a transgender son. His novel The Sea on Fire (Picador, 2012), 'maps new noir territory' (Guardian), and draws from his life as a dive guide and scuba instructor. Cunnell is the contributing editor of Jack Kerouac's On the Road - The Original Scroll (Viking, 2007), which the New York Times called 'the living version for our time.

- howardcunnell.com




Howard has an amazing ability to pick up on the kind of writer you want to be, and find a way to help you put that into words. The mix of his knowledge of the detail of the craft with his passion for making every word count meant that I left every class feeling I had been inspired, rather than just taught.

Kate Weinberg, author of ‘The Truants’ (Bloomsbury, 2019)


Howard's early guidance and advice shaped a major plot point of my novel in progress and made it a hundred times better, and his encouragement gave me the confidence to progress and keep writing. A year later I won a major unpublished manuscript prize and in 2020 'State Highway One' was published by Hachette.
Sam Coley, author of 'State Highway One' {Hachette
Winner of the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers


Howard has been fundamental in shaping my writing. He is a challenging and thought-provoking teacher who demands the best - and inspires you to achieve it.
Lizzy Barber, 'My Name is Anna' (Cornerstone, 2019)


At a time in my life when the allure of writing was beginning to fade, Howard helped me rediscover beauty in the work. He is everything that a writer should seek in a guide.
Jordan Boyd, University North Carolina (Charlotte)


Howard is a great teacher - not only is he exceptional at the craft of writing, he can also communicate his knowledge and passion about literature and writing in a clear and lively way.
Maya Wasowicz, Actor


Howard Cunnell's teaching is one of the main reasons I'm still writing. When I signed up for the course he was teaching on, I didn't see myself as a writer and by the time I left his class, I did. His style is intelligent, questioning, encouraging and practical. He allows students to discover, and be confident in, their own unique voice. 

Miranda Keeling, Actor/Writer 


Howard is a remarkably insightful reader. He has an acute sense of what a piece of writing needs, and a way of articulating it that gives you your own way forwards.

Geraldine Bedell author of The Handmade House 



For more information please contact me at: hcunnell@gmail.com


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