I was born in Manchester in 1965, and went to school in Leeds. I have an M.Phil in philosophy and a PhD on the history of the concept of beauty. In the past I have worked as a nightclub bouncer, civil servant, and Open University tutor in philosophy. I now live in London and am married to the fashion designer and LSE academic, Rebecca Campbell. We have two children, and a dog, Monty, who has featured in two of my books: The Art of Failing (2017) and How to Teach Philosophy to Your Dog (2019).
My debut novel was an adult thriller, Stag Hunt, published to wide critical acclaim by Hodder & Stoughton in 2004. A sequel, Mortal Coil, came out in 2005. In the same year, Random House published Hellbent, which was my first novel for teenagers, described by The Times as ‘a brilliantly nauseating thriller’. It was picked by Anthony Horowitz as his book of the year in the Daily Telegraph. A second young-adult book, Henry Tumour, was published in April 2006. According to The Guardian, ‘Henry Tumour is a boisterous, anarchic, frequently vulgar comedy about a boy with a brain tumour. It is very, very funny. It is also a wise, sensitive and questioning novel about the opposing forces that make us what we are.’ Henry Tumour won the 2006 Booktrust Teenage prize, the 2007 Catalyst Award, and was shortlisted for several major awards.The Knife That Killed Me, was published in 2008 and has proved both highly controversial and topical. It deals in a hard-hitting, intensely realised way with the problems of knife crime and youth violence. Of it, Meg Rosoff (2007 Carnegie Prize winner) has written, ‘Every writer hates to hear the words “stunning new talent” applied to someone else, but in the case of Anthony McGowan nothing else will do.’ The novel was filmed and released in July 2014.
My other YA titles include Hello Darkness, published by Walker Books in 2013, and the Brock/Pike/Rook/Lark quartet published by Barrington Stoke from 2013-19. Rook was shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie medal in 2018.
The Art of Failing published by Oneworld in 2017 is a humorous account of the writer’s life. How to Teach Philosophy to Your Dog, an introduction to philosophy, was published in 2019.
I have also written feature articles for The Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times and the Evening Standard, on subjects ranging from the nightmare of being a relative failure married to a superwoman, to travel, and the dangers of hunting rats with a crossbow.