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Peter Ackroyd - Wikipedia

Lots of Hardy, rustic peasants and so on. I suppose I could introduce Thomas Hardy too. I bet you they do. PA : Well, these things happen, you know. This is probably what got Professor Bloom. The idea never crossed my mind! Of course it was the last thing in the world I was thinking of. PA , No. He used to draw heraldic devices in colored pencils when he was quite young. All that stuff is there, and they have sheets of his work in progress. And it certainly would seem like that on the surface, because you only have to touch a little bit of gray matter and it all starts pouring out.

They are as it were implicit in modern speech, modern writing, and it only takes a little effort to peel back the layers.

Certainly it takes a little bit of mastery at the beginning, but after a while it becomes second nature. So I think even now if you asked me, I could sit down and write 17th-century prose. I know! I got that from a book. So I presume after that stage I then felt I needed a modern dissection. You see, if you think of these things as tasks to be accomplished, rather than as self-expression, you get a much better way of dealing with fiction.

Those were the tasks to be accomplished.

Introduction: Plagiarism and Fictional Literary Biography

And I enjoy very much the work of Jackie Collins. No, I admire most English writers. You see, I used to get into terrible trouble, you know what bitches people can be, so I decided to be very nice about everybody. I tend to love every book I come across now. I only wish I had time to read more of them. In your Eliot biography, you spoke about the business of writing biography.

But of course most people read biographies for the same reason as they read fiction, which is for entertainment. In fact your skills as a novelist have to be more widely deployed in writing a biography than in writing a novel, what skills they are. I read more for a biography, I suppose, but when I actually get down to it and start writing I do pretty much the same thing.

You create characters, you create a setting, you create a sequence of events, you create a sense of the period, et cetera, et cetera. If I do this biography of Dickens properly, then it will read like a novel. He wore green face powder and went to parties dressed as Dr.


This is another thing about biography, how cruelly deceived most readers of biographies are—because on the whole, the most important things are made up by the biographer. They have to be. You have to link things up, and you find your own little ways to do this, and you create a character who bears no relation to any living person that ever was, and the poor reader of the biographer reads it and thinks, well, this must be right. But it never is. So of course I could have put that stuff in, just for a joke. Well no one reads her diaries anyway.

I probably made that up. He has no particular reason to educate them or instruct them. They went to school for that. And there is no truth to tell them, anyway.

No, his business is simply to entertain. Rather like the novelist, you see. Did you come to love or hate Eliot? So my feelings toward this second Eliot were the feelings of an author toward his character. No, I was trying to create Eliot in a book that Eliot might have written.

So I suppose I was creating an image of Eliot which Eliot himself might have created. So the problem with Dickens is what to leave out, not what to put in. I want to write about a quarter of a million words. I want it to be a portrait as much of the period as of Dickens himself.

Well, I take that back.

Full text issues

This is the mystery of it. Which is a polite way of saying you can earn more money from it. So needs must, or whatever the expression is. I just sit here all day writing these bloody books. Well, I was. The gothic tradition is part of that same strain, it springs from the same native English genius, which is, despite appearances to the contrary, a genius for over-elaboration, for a combination of melancholy and a certain kind of surrealism.

You see it everywhere. All three of them intertwined. I think people think of the English as an effeminate race.

Englishmen are always supposed to be effeminate—well, a lot of them actually are. But effeminacy, or camp, if you want to call it that, is a definite part of the English imagination. No, that morality idea comes from the desire of the literary critic to find moral lessons in literature.

But I never met anyone who became a better person for reading a novel. You may become a better writer but not a better person. Chatterton , is a complex, layered novel which explores plagiarism and forgery. His most recent novel is The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein , written in the voice of Victor Frankenstein himself. His other novels include First Light , an original distillation of English landscape and history; English Music , which shifts dramatically in time to focus on events in English history seen through its myths and traditions; The House of Doctor Dee , which epitomises Ackroyd's fascination for the sense of history and place which lurk in the hidden corners of London, in this case Clerkenwell in the east of the old city.

The book repeats the dual narrative form, narrated in turns by Matthew Palmer, a contemporary researcher, and John Dee, the Elizabethan alchemist, both inhabitants of the same house in Clerkenwell, separated and connected through several centuries; Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem brings together a series of grisly East End murders and the world of Victorian music hall, with a cast of real and imagined characters, from music hall performer Dan Leno to Karl Marx and George Gissing; and in Milton in America , Ackroyd creates an imaginary life for the poet, who travels to New England and founds a Puritan community 'New Milton' , which he rules.

The Plato Papers is set years in the future where the citizens of London look back on the Mouldwarp era, a dismal time in history which spanned to A. The Clerkenwell Tales, a story of adventure and suspense set in the late medieval world, was published in , followed by The Lambs of London, in , and The Fall of Troy Peter Ackroyd's published poetry consists of three collections, and he is also the author of works of literary criticism, as well as a book about the history of transvestism.

London: The Biography , is a history of the city that has exerted a powerful influence on his writing, and was awarded the South Bank Show Annual Award for Literature.


His latest book about London is Thames: Sacred River Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination, a cultural history of England from the Anglo-Saxon period to the present, was published in September He is also writing a series of non-fiction children's books for Dorling Kindersley entitled Voyages through Time. Peter Ackroyd lives in London. He was awarded a CBE in Recent Past Lectures. Upcoming Lectures. Newsletter Sign up to receive a monthly email newsletter of our future lectures and events.