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A collection of essays on writers and writing by the Booker-shortlisted novelist and critic.

A collection of essays on writers and writing by the Booker-shortlisted novelist and critic.
Writing about real lives takes various forms, which overlap and may be combined with each other: biography, autobiography, biographical criticism, biographical fiction, memoir, confession, diary.

In these thoughtful and enlightening essays David Lodge considers some particularly interesting examples of life-writing, and contributes several of his own. The subjects include celebrated modern British writers such as Graham Greene, Kingsley Amis, Muriel Spark and Alan Bennett, and two major figures from the past, Anthony Trollope and H.G.Wells. Lodge examines connections between the style and the man in the diaries of the playwright Simon Gray and the cultural criticism of Terry Eagleton, and recalls how his own literary career was entwined with that of his friend Malcolm Bradbury.

All except one of the subjects (Princess Diana) are or were themselves professionally “in writing”, making this collection a kind of casebook of the splendours and miseries of authorship. In a final essay Lodge describes the genesis and compositional method of his recent novel about H.G.Wells, A Man of Parts, and engages with the critical controversies that have been provoked by the increasing popularity of narrative and dramatic writing that combines fact and fiction.

Drawing on David Lodge’s long experience as a novelist and critic, Lives in Writing is a fascinating study of the interface between life and literature.


Lodge is a clear, sceptical writer, wise about things and a careful reader and in general kind even to people who plainly irritate him

Sam Leith, Spectator

Lodge’s animating spark is his sedulousness, his ability to marshal the facts, pronounce a judgement and then subtly qualify it

DJ Taylor, Independent on Sunday

Lodge, too original a writer to set down a conventional autobiography, re­veals himself in fragments, an anecdote here, a recollection there. The collection, then, is a kind of trick: portraits of others disguising a book about himself... This is a hybrid work, well-suited to its hybrid author – rooted in fact but entranced by fiction

Sophie Elmhirst, Financial Times

The shrewd, amused intellect that Lodge brings to bear makes this collection a consistent pleasure… Wise and genial

Tim Martin, The Times

Generous but discriminating, lucid without sacrificing complexity

Theo Tait, Sunday Times

Few readers care much about literary criticism, other than their own. Lodge cares, though, and he’s marvellous at it: genuinely engaged, funny and clever in all the pieces in this new collection

Claire Harman, Evening Standard

It’s not surprising that these essays exude expertise but Lodge’s enthusiasm, as he approaches 80, is infectious too. I smiled while reading them, buzzing with inspiration and disputatiousness, as Lodge reminded me why I love some writers and gave me impetus to discover new ones

Max Liu, Independent

Offers some typically insightful observations into the lives and work of fellow writers


Invaluable, and splendidly open-minded... For Lodge, writing is profession, preoccupation, recreation, passion – as far as the reader can tell, everything

Tom Payne, Daily Telegraph

Amusing, thoughtful and exquisitely engineered, this book is a delight

Martin Stannard, Tablet

A quiet revelation that should be a set text for all pen wielders



Roger Lewis, Oldie

[Lodge] is a scholar of rare sympathy and subtlety

David Eastwood, Times Higher Education

Fascinating, challenging and illuminating… By turns thoughtful and humorous, erudite and affecting, this wide-ranging and enjoyable work from the Booker-nominated author of Small World and Nice Work celebrates the art of writing about others’ lives with warmth, wit, and humanity

Good Book Guide

Thoughtful and well-informed… Lives in Writing will be read long after we have forgotten the people who are the subjects of the essays

The Bay

Writing about writing about writing, yes, but also humane, witty and sensible, entertaining and enlightening

Harry Ritchie, Daily Mail

An eloquent study of the interaction between life and fiction

4 stars, Lady

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    March 2, 2015


    272 pages

    RRP $24.99

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  • EBook


    February 6, 2014

    Vintage Digital

    272 pages

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