Why English writers accept being treated like dirt

17 January 2016 13:49

A few months ago, one of the organisers of the Oxford Literary Festival contacted me. Hi Nick I may be…


Jonathan Meades on god, football and brutophilia – and why his memoir was 17 years late

25 September 2015 0:04

This is a transcript of a talk, ‘Composing the Past’, given by Jonathan Meades at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh…

Is 'Sherlock' compassionate or imaginative?

Writers tend to the Left because they have imagination, not compassion

10 February 2014 14:00

I apologise for writing a blogpost about a tweet, which can look a bit like over-analysis, but I was intrigued…


Has anything in the recent past had a bigger effect on writers and writing than Twitter?

12 September 2013 9:30

I’ve been trying to think of something – anything – in recent years that has had a bigger effect on…

Elmore Leonard has died aged 87.

Elmore Leonard dies aged 87

20 August 2013 15:18

Elmore Leonard has died aged 87. Leonard began his career as a hack and ended it as a modern master. His rule was:…

David Miliband's tragedy is that he can't express himself in plain English. Here are five lessons for him.

5 lessons for David Miliband to learn in New York

8 August 2013 16:21

I have the impression that David Miliband’s valedictory essay in the latest issue of the New Statesman contains some really corking ideas;…

Cumbrian Rural Bus Services Faces Cutbacks

The slow slide into senility

18 July 2013 10:16

Senility is a cunning mistress. She’s always finding new ways to twist your melon, man. The latest trick she’s playing…

Visitors At The Hay Festival 2011

A dream come true

6 June 2013 10:03

It only took me twelve years as a published writer to get round to seeing one of my own books…

Penny Red (Penny Laurie) speaking at rally. Image: Press Association

Dear Laurie Penny, please explain this

5 June 2013 15:54

Mr Steerpike has checked his privilege, and he’s a radical feminist. Middle class, self-loathing and instinctively liberal, how could he not…

Writing books is about selling books. A book should be judged by its cover; and its index, and its subheading; and typeface; and so on. Image; Getty

Writers are tarts

14 February 2013 13:48

Tarts. That’s what we are, really, us writers. Not just in the general sense of loving attention – also in…

P. G. Wodehouse

In praise of Plum

8 February 2013 12:26

This blog post is not going to say anything original. You’ll have read it all before. Its sole purpose is…

A picture taken from the recent show drawing inspiration from Titian's Diana and Actaeon

Bad Sex Award

29 November 2012 9:53

Loins are girded and members tumescent, for next Tuesday sees the presentation of this year’s Bad Sex Award. The Literary…

A wrecked Pontiac, one of the items displayed in J.G. Ballard's 'The Atrocity Exhibition'. Image: Getty.

Meeting J.G. Ballard

20 November 2012 19:00

In the programme Frost on Interviews that was recently rebroadcasted by BBC Four, the distinguished journalist, David Frost, attempted to…

Somerset probably would have approved of NaNoWriMo, a scheme that encourages aspiring authors to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. Image: Getty

Write a novel in a month

15 November 2012 17:54

Could you write a novel in a month? Plenty of people around the world are trying to do just that…

Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' manuscript - the days of writing in long hand have passed, but what of correcting in long hand? Image: Getty.

Paper talk

1 November 2012 10:35

The rainforests must be jumping for joy these days. Which is ironic, as they’ve largely got Amazon to thank for…

Claude Monet taking in the air and the water lilies in his garden at Giverny, circa 1910. Image: Getty

Plein-air pleasures and the great indoors

24 October 2012 16:44

Some say it’s the walk there that does it. The promenade down a rambling city path and through a crowd…

Enid Blyton had a 6,000-a-day habit. Image: Getty

How many words are there in a day?

4 October 2012 14:37

‘Write your own name a hundred times,’ T.H. White once commented, ‘and you will be bored; seven hundred times and…

Javier Marías is bound to win the Nobel Prize for Literature at some point, so it’s best to make sure that you’ve something to say when he does. Image: Getty

An introduction to Javier Marías

13 September 2012 12:31

The fundamental purpose of the literary critic is to incentivise his audience to read books of which he approves. He…

'His thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision.' Dr. Watson describes Sherlock Holmes. Image: Getty.

Do we need to know what a character looks like?

6 September 2012 10:06

How much attention do you pay to the physical descriptions of characters in novels? Interviewed on Five Live recently about…

Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes RIP

7 August 2012 12:02

It has been a bad week for men of letters, with the loss of Gore Vidal a few days ago…

Participants at the 13th Summit of franc

Nabokov’s true love

4 July 2012 8:45

When Vladimir Nabokov’s unfinished book (not quite a novel, not quite a novella) The Original of Laura was posthumously released…

The 2011 New Yorker Festival: Jonathan Franzen Talks With David Remnick

The art of fiction: Jonathan Franzen, essayist

15 June 2012 18:30

Do great novelists make great essayists? Not in the case of Jonathan Franzen, at least according to Phillip Lopate, who…

RIP Ray Bradbury, 1920 – 2012

6 June 2012 18:15

The revered science fiction, horror and mystery writer Ray Bradbury has died aged 91. He was best known for Fahrenheit…