William Nicholson was born in 1948, and grew up in Sussex and Gloucestershire. He joined BBC Television, where he worked as a documentary film maker. His plays for television include Shadowlands and Life Story, both of which won the BAFTA Best Television Drama award in their year; other award-winners were Sweet As You Are and The March. In 1988 he received the Royal Television Society’s Writer’s Award.
His first play, an adaptation of Shadowlands for the stage, was Evening Standard Best Play of 1990, and went on to a Tony Award winning run on Broadway. He was nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay of the film version. His other plays include Map of the Heart, Katherine Howard, The Retreat from Moscow (which ran for five months on Broadway and received three Tony Award nominations), and Crash.
His film credits include: Sarafina, Nell, First Knight, Grey Owl, Gladiator (as co-writer, for which he received a second Oscar nomination), Elizabeth: the Golden Age, Les Miserables, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Unbroken, Everest, Firelight and Breathe.
His novels include The Society of Others (2004), The Trial of True Love (2005), The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life (2009), All the Hopeful Lovers (2010) The Golden Hour (2011), Motherland (2013), Reckless (2014), The Lovers of Amherst (2015), and Adventures in Modern Marriage (2017), his fantasy The Wind on Fire trilogy for older children,is made up of The Wind Singer (2000, Smarties Prize Gold Award and the Blue Peter Book of the Year), Slaves of the Mastery (2001) and Firesong (2002). His second sequence of fantasy novels, The Noble Warriors, is Seeker (2005), Jango (2006) and Noman (2007). His love-and-sex novel for teens, Rich and Mad, was published in 2010.
He lives in Sussex with his wife, the social historian Virginia Nicholson, and their three children.