Robert Grossmith

Robert Grossmith

Norwich, UK

Published novelist/short story writer (incl in Penguin Classics) with literature PhD and 15 years' experience as HarperCollins senior editor

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About the author

I have published two novels – The Empire of Lights (Hamish Hamilton, 1990) and The Year of Living Philosophically (MTP, 2020) -- as well as numerous short stories in magazines, literary journals and anthologies, including the Spectator, the Literary Review, London Magazine, Best Short Stories 1989, Best Short Stories 1990, The Best of Best Short Stories, The Time Out Book of London Short Stories, Sixteen Modern Short Stories, The Penguin Book of First World War Stories etc. I have also published poems, scholarly articles and book reviews. An audio podcast of one of my stories is available on YouTube.

I have a BA in Philosophy & Psychology and a PhD on the fiction of Vladimir Nabokov, together with lecturing experience in the American Studies department at the University of Keele.

I worked for 15 years as a dictionary editor/senior editor/managing editor at HarperCollins Publishers in Glasgow.

I previously worked for 5 years as an English language teacher at The British Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, where I learned to speak passable Swedish and translated a number of academic papers and doctoral dissertations from Swedish to English.

If you Google me, you will find my fiction-writing credits and scholarly articles under the name “Robert Grossmith” and my dictionary-editing and book reviews under “Bob Grossmith”.

Put simply, the English language in one of its many diverse disciplines or another – studying it, teaching it, writing it, editing it – is how I have spent my life.
Writing & Publishing
Humor & Comedy
Literary Fiction
Short Story

Latest blog posts from Wordpress - Robert Grossmith

What counts as sexual harassment?

No reasonable person could deny that it’s completely unacceptable for a woman to feel afraid of being sexually harassed when walking alone on a street at night or on her own in a bar. No-brainer. Obviously. But how is that perfectly justified fear to be removed? Now there’s talk of introducing a crime of ‘street harassment’. But what would count as such a crime? Where is the line to be drawn?

One TV interviewee I heard recently included wolf whistling as a form of sexual harassment. When I was growing up, wolf whistling was regarded as an acceptable way for a man to signal his appreciation of a woman’s physical charms. The woman would usually smile, feeling complimented, and continue on her way. Wolf whistling may be crass but is it now to be considered a crime?

Or suppose a guy in a bar approaches a woman standing alone. ‘Hello, gorgeous!’ he says with a drunken leer. ‘You on your lonesome?’ The woman finds the man creepy-looking, his attentions are unwanted, she feels threatened and reports him to the police. Has he committed a crime? Perhaps he’s just a jerk. Aren’t we back in the realm of ‘Your behaviour offended me, therefore you need to change your behaviour’?

Of course it’s clear that the behaviour of some men, perhaps particularly younger men, does need to change. But putting a crime of street harassment on the statute books is unlikely to bring about that change. It goes far deeper than that. Brought up in a world of online porn in which women are routinely depicted as sexual omnivores, literally ‘gagging for it’, is it any wonder that some young men imbibe those attitudes and project those perceptions onto the women around them? But how do you halt the flood of online porn without shutting down whole sections of the Web in a way that we’d be quick to condemn if it was carried out by the likes of China or North Korea?

We seem to be at a fork in the road. One path leads to ever-increasing licence in the portrayal of sexual relations to the point where pretty much anything short of rape or murder is permitted. The other path leads to the erosion of fundamental democratic rights such as the right to freedom of expression. Which path will prevail in this forking hell?

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Mar 15, 2021 17:51

Portfolio (2 selected works)

Empire of Lights, The

Grossmith, Robert