Author Martin Amis is being paid more per hour than Wayne Rooney
Alexi Mostrous, The Times, January 26, 2008
Just like Wayne Rooney, he earned global fame as an outrageously gifted young tearaway, became a magnet for controversy as he matured, and secured a transfer to a leading Manchester institution. But until yesterday no one suspected that Martin Amis earned more per hour lecturing at the University of Manchester than England’s finest footballer does playing up front for United.
The celebrated author, who once wrote that “weapons are like money; no one knows the meaning of enough”, is contracted at just under £3,000 per hour to teach creative writing at the university. His £80,000 salary obliges him to work a distinctly achievable total of 28 hours a year.
In contrast, Rooney makes £50,000 per week — far more than Amis in real terms. But the footballer trains for 30 hours a week, meaning that his hourly rate is 50 per cent lower than the novelist’s.
Amis strongly defended his pay deal yesterday. “It’s very much Manchester University’s decision to make and I abide by it,” he told The Times. “This is really an invidious conversation. Who’s to say I wouldn’t earn less money anywhere else?
“Why aren’t you having this conversation with Wayne Rooney? Some footballers earn huge amounts. Not every footballer gets a hundred thousand a week like Rooney. And that’s all I want to say on the matter.”
Rooney became an overnight sensation when he scored a breathtaking goal for Everton against Arsenal when he was 16. An early scandal about his private life and occasional flare-ups on the pitch have failed to stall his progress towards the top of the game, boosted by a big-money move to Manchester United in 2004.
Amis electrified the global literary scene with his debut novel The Rachel Papers, published when he was 24. In an outspoken career since then he has balanced commercial success with critical acclaim and shown an appetite for controversy.
The most recent example of the latter was claiming that his illustrious father, Kingsley, was mildly anti-semitic while “I’m pretty free of racism, but I get little impulses, urges and atavisms now and then”. He was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at Manchester last February.
Details of Amis’s salary were released by the Government under freedom of information laws. He is one of a number of prominent figures to have been appointed. Others have included two Nobel prize winners — Joseph Stiglitz, the economist, and John Sulston, the geneticist.
His salary is more than 240 times that of an average full-time academic, who earns £38,933 a year for 59 hours a week. But it pales in comparison to fees charged by big political figures. In November it was reported that Tony Blair received up to £240,000 for one 20-minute speech in China. That works out at £720,000 an hour.
Amis’s appointment represents a general move by universities to engage famous academics, at any cost, to bolster their reputation and encourage applications. The university has been forced to shed up to 750 jobs recently, including those of lecturers, to get itself out of £30 million of debt.
About £10 million of that debt is reported to have been taken on to pay for the appointment of Amis and other big-name academics as the university pushes to be recognised as one of the world’s top institutions by 2015.
Union leaders criticised the size of the salaries. Most visiting lecturers are paid between £20 and £50 an hour.
Since Amis’s appointment the number of students applying for the £3,000-a-year course this year has risen from 100 to 150.
The working week
Martin Amis’s week: on average 32 minutes’ work
Run a 90-minute seminar for students on his creative writing course (12 weeks out of 52)
Make a two-hour public appearence at the univeristy’s summer writing school (4 weeks out of 52)
Teach a two-hour session at the school(once)
Total per year: 28 hours
Wayne Rooney’s week: on average 26 hours
Play two 90-minute football matches (48 weeks a year)
Prepare for 3 hours for the football matches (48 weeks a year)
Train for four hours a day, five days a week (48 weeks a year)
Total per year: 1,248 hours
Other celebrity fees
Tony Blair, £100,000 -£200,000 per speech
Cherie Blair, £15,000 per speech
Bill Clinton, £150,000 for a lecture
Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State, £12,000 a lecture
Duchess of York, £8,000 a lecture