Jennie Erdal

Jennie Erdal grew up in a mining village in Fife. She worked as the unacknowledged ghostwriter for Naim Attallah, the publisher and owner of Quartet Books for over twenty years. Having started out as a translator of Russian novels, then as a commissioning editor, she ultimately published under Naim’s name two novels, a weekly newspaper column, book reviews, letters, poems and even love letters. She researched, wrote the questions for, and edited in-depth interviews for the collection Women, and eight further volumes of interviews. Her account of this experience, Ghosting, was shortlisted for the Saltire Society First Book Award and the J R Ackerly Prize; it was also a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. Jennie died in 2020.

Jennie Erdal is represented at Jenny Brown Associates by Jenny. For all enquiries contact

Books by Jennie

The Missing Shade of Blue

Abacus, March 2012

When translator Edgar Logan arrives from his home in Paris to work in Edinburgh he anticipates a period of enlightenment and calm. But after a chance meeting with the philosopher Harry Sanderson and his captivating artist wife, Edgar’s meticulously circumscribed life is suddenly propelled into drama and crisis. Drawn into the Sandersons’ troubled marriage, Edgar must confront both his own deepest fears from the past and his present growing attraction to the beguiling Carrie.

Moving, witty and wise, The Missing Shade of Blue is a compelling portrait of the modern condition, from the absence of faith to the scourge of sexual jealousy and the elusive nature of happiness.

Praise for The Missing Shade of Blue

Absorbing … This is a writer of rare assurance and intelligence. –Spectator

Compelling. Jennie Erdal has a fine eye for the dynamics of sexual relationships. –The Times

The Missing Shade of Blue is fascinated with big ideas, full of lively wit and a tender eye for the foibles of human nature. –Literary Review

Cleverly constructed novel, it gives us an outsider’s view of a marriage that’s complex … A beautifully written novel. –Scottish Review of Books

Deep waters and dense themes, marshalled with a light touch and dry wit. Elegant, humane. –Guardian



Canongate, June 2005
North American rights: Anchor Press/Doubleday
German rights: Aufbau

Ghosting is a remarkable account of one woman’s life – or, to be more accurate, lives. For fifteen years, Jennie Erdal had a double existence: officially she worked as a personal editor for one particular man – Tiger – but in reality she was his ghost-writer and in some mysterious sense his alter ego. During this time she wrote a great deal that appeared under his name – from personal letters and business correspondence to newspaper columns, novels and full length books.

Ghosting moves from a vivid evocation of an austere upbringing in Fife to superbly rendered portraits of the people with whom Jennie Erdal worked at a London-based publishing house, chief among them Tiger, the larger-than-life character with whom the author had a unique and symbiotic relationship; professionally hidden, yet somehow truthful and intimate. This moving and beautifully written memoir is laced throughout with rich, quiet comedy and profound insights into what it means to be human and to live in language. Ghosting is a meditation on words, identity and creativity, but above all it is a portrait of a uniquely intimate relationship between a man and a woman.

Praise for Ghosting

A little masterpiece about a relationship, superbly written in a down-to-earth style, and as enjoyable as a good novel. –Sunday Times

If this were simply a ghost-and-tell book, it would be of interest only to a very limited number of the London literati. But it is much, much more than that; it is a beautifully composed memoir; sometimes rather desperate, sometimes very funny, of an extraordinary symbiotic relationship between two very different people. –Mail On Sunday

Jennie Erdal has written a book that is hugely enjoyable to read, touches on profound questions about language and writing and provides a vivid and often affectionate, but fairly merciless, portrait of an exasperating, despotic, self-deluding but in the end likable figure, with the tantrums of a small child and the plumage of a peacock. –Spectator