Welcome to The Red Opera

The website about the work of Paul Hoffman


Probably the last English novelist to be born by the light of a paraffin lamp, Paul Hoffman spent much of his childhood on airfields all around the world watching his father – a pioneer of sports parachuting – jumping out of aeroplanes. He witnessed his first death at the age of six when one of his father’s friends was killed in an attempt to discover how near the ground he could open his parachute. After a long and brutal battle with the nuns and priest who were charged with saving his soul and which left him at sixteen without any formal qualifications he was offered a place to read English at New College, Oxford when no other university would interview him. He is the only Oxford graduate in history to have failed in every public examination before the age of eighteen. After graduating he worked in over twenty different jobs, including boardman in a betting shop, messenger boy to a City merchant bank and teacher. He was also senior film censor at the British Board of Film Classification.

His first novel, The Wisdom of Crocodiles took thirteen years to write and went into its third imprint within six weeks of publication. Published in 2000 it predicted the collapse of the financial system in precise detail as well as the re-emergence of international terrorism. Jude Law starred in the motion picture of the same name based on one part of the novel. Despite excellent performances and cinematography the finished film is a lame distortion of the original script.

His second novel The Golden Age Of Censorship is a black comedy based on his ten years as a senior film examiner at the highly eccentric The British Board of Film Classification between 1984 and 1993 which resulted in his being fired for insubordination along with nine of his colleagues.

He is the writer or co-writer of three produced films but in 2004, for all the usual reasons, he abandoned screenwriting to concentrate on writing novels. He has now completed The Left Hand of God trilogy: The Left Hand of God, The Last Four Things, and the soon to be published The Beating of His Wings. Both of the first two novels entered the Sunday Times Bestseller list in the top ten. The novels have been translated into twenty eight languages.