Russell Hoban

Russell Hoban (1925-2011) was an American novelist and children’s writer.

What makes Russell Hoban’s writing so memorable, and creates passionate devotees of those lucky enough to discover his work, is his patented blend of droll, arch humor mixed.  Dave Awl

For more details on arch humor click here.

Russell worked in a rambling (some might say chaotic) study which he called his “exobrain”, actually a large reception room at the front of the upper ground floor of his house in Fulham.  The Guardian

Writers' rooms: Russell Hoban

Photographer: Eamonn McCabe

His children’s books are the kind of enduring classics that are remembered fondly by adults who grew up on them decades ago; they still delight children today, while containing enough sly wit—and often, surprisingly sophisticated ideas—that they engage, enlighten and move the adults who pick them up as well. ocelotfactory


Frances with eggs

Here’s a scene from Bread and Jam For Francis:

“Why do you keep eating bread and jam,” asked father.

When you have a lovely egg?”

“I like bread and jam,” said Frances.

Because it does not slide off your spoon in a funny way.”



For more information on Russell Hoban’s adult novels click here and for still more on him click here.

Have you read any of his children’s books? 



35 thoughts on “Russell Hoban

  1. Carol – I love that bread and jam logic! And I know what you mean about an office/study as an exobrain. So great! Thanks for sharing.


  2. I don’t think I’ve read any of his books. I used to teach children’s literature, too, and none of these look familiar. Thanks for introducing me to a “new” (new-old) children’s writer!


  3. The ‘Francis’ books were my favorite when I was little. Made my parents read them to me over and over again. But I never knew anything about the author. Thank you for posting!


  4. His exobrain … very interesting way to think of one’s working space. I vaguely remember his name. Don’t think I read any of his works. Thank you for the post, Carol. An interesting mind to study.


  5. I don’t think I ever heard of him either. I did some reading up on him. He loved London and felt more at home there. Funny how where you live can make such a difference for some people. His first wife left him and I thought he was done for. But no, he remarried and started another family. And he became more successful later. Interesting how you bring out different authors and I learn a bit about there life and some of their history. Really fun for me. Thanks for sharing and may you have an awesome week-end too.


    • Thanks for your research. There are so many good writers to discover that it’s mind-boggling.
      I’m glad that you’re having fun looking up the authors. I really like doing that as well.
      Thank you for reading. Have a relaxfull weekend.


  6. I love coming here Carol and learning about other author’s works. I am not familiar with Russell’s work as it has been a long time since I was a kid and I have none of my own. Thanks for sharing this and I will have a look because I love to buy books for my grand-niece and it is nice to diversify in the book choices I was familiar with. 🙂 xo


  7. I so loved reading the excerpts from these master writers. But even more so, I enjoyed the photos of their desks. I could relate to the offices that looked like a bomb exploded. Writing is so messy and chaotic and undisciplined and I guess for me my environment must match that. Oh well, to each her own, but I’ll take the mess any day. Thanks, Carol, for sharing this. I’m still smiling.


  8. Yes, I have read some of his books. I read them to my kids, and I’ve always believed that the best children’s books are ones that work for adults as well because they are more clever and more deep than they might appear on the surface. I think they help kids grow.


  9. This was a lovely post, sharing private details about the author’s den where he created his stories. I have always liked Russell Hoban’s children’s books. My Dad’s office in our home, resembled this ‘mess,’ at times. But I didn’t mind straightening and reading his notes and thoughts written down. His book is interesting, “Hot Lab,” because it is part semi-autobiographical and part futuristic. He was the leader on a team that set up “Plum Brook,” after they studied “Oak Ridge.” He also would draw his thoughts on scraps of paper. He gave me credit for being his ‘editor’ at age 15, in a signed copy of the book! Writers have very neat and organized ‘lairs’ and some have messy ones, or they run the gamut in between! Fun stuff!


    • How lucky you are to have started editing so young. Your admiration of your Dad is really beautiful. I’m so happy that my post on Hoban brought back such fond memories for you. Thank you for reading and as always I enjoy your comments. 🙂


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