Paperback: 272 pages

Publisher: Lightning Books (18th May 2017)

ISBN-13: 978-1-785563-502-1

The Hopkins Conundrum

Simon Edge


“Genuinely funny and deeply poignant” – Daily Express

Tim Cleverley inherits a failing pub in Wales. The only thing of interest is its location, which is down the road from the remote Jesuit seminary where Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote his masterpiece, The Wreck of the Deutschland, about the death of a group of nuns fleeing Germany on board a doomed ship. To Tim, the opaque religious poetry is incomprehensible – almost as if it’s written in code.

This gives him an idea. Desperate for passing trade, he contacts an American author – famous as a purveyor of Holy Grail hokum – suggesting he write a book about the poet, the area and a recently discovered, and entirely fabricated, ‘mystery’. Fortunately for Tim, the famous author is going through a period of writer's block and latches on to his idea at once. But will Tim's new relationship with a genuine Hopkins fan scupper the plan? ​

The Hopkins Conundrum blends the real stories of Hopkins and the shipwrecked nuns while casting a wry eye on The Da Vinci Code industry in a highly original mix of fiction, literary biography and satirical commentary.




Audio: Tim’s big idea


There are three narrative strands in The Hopkins Conundrum, two historical and one contemporary. In this extract from the contemporary strand, our hapless hero Tim ‘NotSo’ Cleverley conceives the crackpot idea which drives the novel and which he hopes will make him rich.


“I love this novel. It pulls off the three-card trick of being entertaining, genuinely touching, and a fascinating insight into Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poetry.”

Harriett Gilbert, presenter of BBC Radio 4's A Good Read

“A deft fusion of genuinely funny writing and deeply poignant drama bound artfully around the vividly imagined character of Gerard Manley Hopkins, who is long overdue a revival and deservedly takes centre-stage.”

Jennifer Selway, Daily Express

The Hopkins Conundrum is wonderfully enjoyable: a masterful mash-up of contemporary literary satire and poetic erudition which had me laughing out loud and then reaching for the collected works of a now neglected Victorian poet. Prepare to be delighted.”

New York Times bestselling novelist Liz Trenow


“A splendid mix of literary detection, historical description and contemporary romance. Edge’s witty debunking of the Vatican conspiracy genre will appeal equally to fans and detractors of Dan Brown.”

Michael Arditti

“A compelling and captivating debut.”

Laurie Graham

“The book gave me much to identify with. It becomes increasingly propulsive. Among the many things it does is to set off thoughtful writing from the kind that plays to the credulous for profit. My compliments to the author.”

Tom Merrill, poet



Read more about the real characters behind The Hopkins Conundrum and the process of researching the novel at


Simon Edge

Simon Edge read philosophy at Cambridge University and worked as an English teacher in the Gaza Strip and a specialist journalist on the Middle East before becoming editor of the pioneering London paper Capital Gay and then entering Fleet Street.

A gossip columnist on the Evening Standard, he joined the staff of the Daily Express under editor Rosie Boycott and ended up staying 15 years, working variously as a feature writer, obituaries editor and theatre critic. He has also written for The TimesThe GuardianThe Independent, the Daily Telegraph, Private Eye, the New Statesman and Attitude, where he is a contributing editor. He has been a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 5 Live. Since leaving journalism he has worked as a political spin doctor and a publicist.

Simon was on the inaugural intake of City University's MA in Creative Writing and subsequently taught on that course as a visiting lecturer, well before being published as a novelist himself.

He lives in Greenwich with a kleptomaniac whippet called Pippin.

Read more about Simon and his work at

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