I still can remember my shock when I heard that Bruce Chatwin had died. It was Wednesday, the eighteenth of January, 1989. I was thirty-one, and, like many who had known or read him, I felt a grief out of all proportion to my expectation. He died young, but not so young as most people [...]
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So far Nicholas Shakespeare has created 8 blog entries.
Elizabeth Hay, A Student of Weather Mario Vargas Llosa, The Feast of the Goat Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate Jorge Semprun, Life or Literature Jean D’Ormesson, At God’s Pleasure W. Sebald, Austerlitz Thomas Savage, The Power of the Dog James Salter, All There Is John Williams, Stonor Amy Sackville, Orkney Tim O’Brien, In the Lake [...]
To dine in Hall by candlelight remains a great tradition at Magdalene College, Cambridge. At my matriculation dinner, aged 18, I was put next to I. A. Richards, the father of modern English studies. Thick spectacles, long white hair, he lifted his head towards the other tables, and revealed how, sixty years earlier, he sat where I [...]
Nicole Kidman was stirring feathers as Princess Grace in Cannes this week. It reminded me that one of Priscilla's lovers in Occupied France, the Belgian racing ace Emile Cornet, became Princess Grace's press secretary after war, causing an international hullabaloo in March 1962 when he broke the news that Grace was to return to the screen to star in Alfred [...]
At a moving ceremony on Friday evening a prayer was said for my aunt Priscilla, who died 41 years ago. In 1938, she had become a Catholic in order to marry her first husband, and then, rather like Graham Greene, started to take her new faith seriously, but concealing this from her friends and English family. Only to [...]
The whole business of being published is the literary equivalent of the bends. Submerged for four years during the researching and writing, you are propelled, gasping and choking, to the surface. From having existed, as it were, as a solitary fish – living a life of "problems and drudgery" in Halldor Laxness's phrase about writing – [...]
What compels you to buy a novel? I bought Offshore on the day after it won the 1979 Booker Prize. This was partly in response to the dismissive BBC Book Programme about "this trouble-creating Booker Prize" in which Robert Robinson, himself an abysmal novelist, proposed to everyone on the panel, including Fitzgerald, that "the Booker judges [...]
Talk in the Villa Rothsay Hotel was of an impending authors' rebellion against free appearances. One director of a British Literary Festival, so the story goes, recently offered an American novelist £20,000 to appear, plus a first class air ticket. And yet we are supposed to be on a level playing field. The last time [...]