Douglas Stuart, a reluctant fashion designer, has won the Booker Prize with ‘Shuggie Bain’, an autobiographical novel, about the lonely gay son of an alcoholic mother in 1980s Glasgow. Described as ‘heartbreaking’ ‘both beautiful and brutal’ it fictionalises Stuart’s love for his mother despite her flaws and his determination to survive and thrive in a homophobic early environment.
Born 31 May 1976 (wiki), in a housing estate in Glasgow, his father walked out when he was 4, died when he was eight. His mother died when he was 16 of alcoholism. He credits his childhood with giving him “a large amount of self-reliance, determination. I’m incredibly resilient and focused. I see that a lot of my peers don’t have those things — not knowing the keen edge of need, the fear of having no safety net. Those are the positive things of the way I grew up.”
At 16, he rented a room, working on the tills at a supermarket, while he finished his schooling. He went into textiles, without much enthusiasm but it felt like a safe space being a women-oriented environment after his bullying schooldays. He became a knitwear designer for Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic and Jack Spade. “There was no reverse gear,” he says. “There was nowhere to go back to.” He lives now in New York with his husband, Michael Cary, a curator at Gagosian.
He started writing Shuggie Bain a decade ago and had it rejected by 32 publishers before it came out to rave reviews.
He’s a Sun Venus in Gemini opposition Neptune and trine Pluto – that’s a combination which has produced many notables both from 1975 Geminis like Angelina Jolie and Marissa Mayer, ex-CEO Yahoo; in 1976 like Cillian Murphy (25 May) and Colin Farrell (31 May). Neptune and Pluto in aspect to the Sun appear to generate a sense of driving ambition.
He’s also got a risk-taking Uranus square Mars and square Saturn; and an indulgent Jupiter in money-magnet Taurus. His Moon is in Cancer trine Uranus and square Pluto hinting at a close bond with mother (Cancer plus Pluto) but one who was also erratic and unpredictable (Moon Uranus).
His writers’ 21st harmonic is well-aspected. He intends to give up fashion and take to writing full time.
Another inspirational tough-childhood tale.