Category biography

Patrick French, Biographer of VS Naipaul

Nobel and Booker Prize winner VS Naipaul has died at the age of eighty-five at his home in London. I never interviewed him myself, but I did interview his biographer Patrick French at the 2008 Edinburgh International Book Festival. Patrick French has won awards for his biography of the explorer Francis Younghusband and for his […]

Gerald Murnane – a date with destiny

KAustralian writer Gerald Murnane is being mentioned in despatches as a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Of course, many are called and few are chosen and it seems that each year the winner is somewhat of a surprise. Nonetheless,  Gerald Murnane certainly has a singular voice, as evidenced by the transcript below of […]

Vale American postmodern writer William Gass

The New York Times reports: William H. Gass, a proudly postmodern author who valued form and language more than literary conventions like plot and character and who had a broad influence on other experimental writers of the 1960s, ’70s and beyond, died on Wednesday in St. Louis. He was 93. Here is a transcript of […]

The late Helen Dunmore talks with me and Jim Crace on The Writing Life.

English novelist and poet Helen Dunmore has died aged 64. I only met her once for this conversation at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2004. With Birmingham writer Jim Crace  we spoke of their different routines and talismans and attitudes to the blank page in the solitary space of the writer’s room. And rereading […]

Vale John Clarke, 1948-2017

My friend John Clarke was a brilliant satirist, but many forget what a deeply analytical mind he had for one of his great loves – poetry. He published collections of parodies and in the following interview from 2008, he had just been appointed Patron of the Australian Poetry Centre. From parody to patronage: John Clarke […]

Vale Professor Jill Roe, writer and historian

Emeritus Professor Jill Roe died recently (12/01.2017). One of the highlights of her work was to produce a substantial biography of Stella Miles Franklin, the author of My Brilliant Career, who herself  left a legacy that’s remembered every year in the Miles Franklin Award for Australian Writing and the more recently established Stella Prize for Women’s […]