books

In a few short years, Dolly Alderton made herself a brand. This is how she did it.

Almost every millennial woman knows the name Dolly Alderton. 

Whether that's from listening to her podcast The High Low, reading her best-selling memoir Everything I Know About Love or her debut novel Ghosts, Alderton's experiences with dating, love and female friendships struck a chord with a generation of women.

Watch: Meet MPlus. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

Dolly Alderton was born in London as Hannah Alderton. She changed her name to Dolly in her teens and grew up in Stanmore. 

After completing her undergraduate degree in English at Exeter University and her Masters in Journalism at City University, Alderton moved to London to break into the world of media. 

She started her career as a columnist at askmen.com, where her reviews of the popular UK reality show Made in Chelsea landed her a job as a story producer for the show.

After producing storylines for four years, Alderton switched her focus to journalism and became the dating columnist for The Sunday Times Style pages.

Within minutes of reading anything written by Alderton, you'll know that she's unapologetically herself. Her words are frank and honest; a trait which she believes led to her success today.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I don’t think people look to me for advice, I think they look to me for truths and they look to me for a sense of reassurance because I’m someone who’s been so transparent about making a lot of bad decisions and reflecting on them," she told the Evening Standard in 2020.

"I think the minute I position myself in my head as some sort of sage, not only are they f**ked, but I’m f**ked." 

From 2015 to 2017, Alderton wrote her dating column every week. During the two years, she went on nearly 100 dates and tried out seven dating apps and three dating sites. 

"There have been bankers, lawyers, musicians, barmen, taxi drivers and conspiracy theorists. I’ve been on the front line, guys. The John Simpson of dating. I’ve seen it all," she wrote in 2017.

In 2017, Alderton launched a weekly podcast, The High Low, with fellow journalist and friend Pandora Sykes, "that covers highbrow and lowbrow culture". 

ADVERTISEMENT

In four years, with just over 150 episodes, the podcast reached 30 million downloads. It ended in 2020.

Alderton also launched her own podcast, Love Stories, where she sat down with a different guest each week to talk about love. 

In 2018, Alderton wrote her aptly named memoir, Everything I Know About Love. Before its release, she was convinced it would flop.

"A month before my book came out I remember ringing my mum in a panic, in floods of tears, because I was so convinced that the only people who would buy it would be my extended friends and family," she told the Evening Standard

"I remember crying to my mum on the phone saying 'I’m worried people at Penguin are going to lose their jobs'."

ADVERTISEMENT

In the book about her "roaring 20s", Alderton vividly recounts the struggles of early adulthood - falling in love, getting a job, getting drunk and getting dumped - with wit and humour. 

It became a Sunday Times bestseller in its first week of publication and won a National Book Award (UK) for Autobiography of the Year.

After its success, Alderton kept writing but this time focusing on fiction.

"Put simply, my first book was all my good stories," Alderton told BBC News in 2020. "I had a particular story to tell. And that was also a thematic story that fit neatly into a memoir, which was a story about growing up.

"But also, I just don't want to write about my personal life any more, I have neither the inclination nor the strength to do that," she said. "Not to say that I regret doing that. I'm really glad I did that for that period of my life. But any desire to do that has completely left me now."

In 2020, she released her debut novel, Ghosts.

ADVERTISEMENT

The book centres around 32-year-old Nina, a food writer who's blissfully happy with her new boyfriend Max (who she met on a dating app). Then, he ghosts her.

"I wanted to write about modern heterosexuality and I thought, what's the most haunting, confusing and intriguing of modern day things - and it's ghosting. It's happened to every woman I know. Within an hour I had the entire plot mapped out," Alderton told the Belfast Telegraph in 2020. 

Two years on from the release of her memoir, Everything I Know About Love is being adapted into a television series.

"A TV adaptation of my first book Everything I Know About Love is being made by @workingtitlefilms for The BBC," Alderton announced on Instagram in May 2021. "The story is a romantic comedy about two best friends, written by me and directed by the phenomenally clever @chinamooyoung." 

ADVERTISEMENT

These days, the now-32-year-old still writes for The Sunday Times; but instead of writing about herself, she works as an agony aunt, helping readers who are seeking advice.

She calls it her dream job.

"Think of how you persuade your parents that you’re old enough to get your ears pierced, I’m so grateful that I’ve persuaded my editor that I’m old enough to be an agony aunt, I’m loving it so much, it’s my favourite journalism gig I’ve had," she said in an interview with the Evening Standard.

ADVERTISEMENT

In February 2021, Alderton joined author, journalist and host of the popular podcast Sentimental Garbage, Caroline O'Donoghue, for a Sex and The City mini series called Sentimental in the City. 

In each episode, the writers analyse a season (or film) and the themes (think, Carrie Bradshaw's incredible fashion to Samantha Jones' tragic childhood).

And when it comes to her own dating life, Alderton is happily single... for now.

"I'm a great romantic, so I'm very open to it in my future, but it's not something that's occupying the top of my list at the moment," she said in 2020. 

"I would love to have a family and be in a long-term relationship, but what I want even more is to write novels and make a career out of my writing for the rest of my life. The rest of it, you just have to be hopeful and open-minded and see what happens."

Want more content? Join MPlus. You'll receive access to exclusive new podcasts, including Mamamia Book Club, where we discuss Dolly Alderton's Ghosts.

Feature image: Instagram/@dollyalderton