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About the book
  • Published: 6 February 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448182077
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 272

Lives in Writing

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.

  • Pub date: 6 February 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448182077
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 272

About the Author

David Lodge

David Lodge (CBE)’s novels include Changing Places, Small World and Nice Work (shortlisted for the Booker) and, most recently, A Man of Parts. He has also written plays and screenplays, and several books of literary criticism. His works have been translated into more than thirty languages.

He is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at Birmingham, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and is a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Also by David Lodge

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Praise for Lives in Writing

“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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