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Gossipy journalists, revolutionary poets, political novelists and influential professors: a fascinating history of taste in literary culture over the last century

‘An entertaining history of literary life’ Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph

Spanning a century of literary history, from the pitched battles fought between Eliot-era modernists and Georgian traditionalists to the impact of creative writing degrees and the media don of today and taking in ‘star reviewers’, sniping critics, caballing editors and megalomaniac professors along the way, The Prose Factory explores the myriad influences on English literary life in the past century and the way in which they have shaped our preferences.

‘An amazing achievement’ David Lodge

‘A pleasingly gossipy history of literary life in England since 1918…very enjoyable’ Observer

‘Elegantly written, defiantly intelligent, scrupulously researched and richly enjoyable’ Mail on Sunday


An entertaining history of literary life.

Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph

Engaging, assured and entertaining.

James Kidd, Independent

Wide ranging, entertaining and thoughtful survey

Michael Prodger, The Times

An amazing achievement

David Lodge

A pleasingly gossipy history of literary life in England since 1918…very enjoyable


Elegantly written, defiantly intelligent, scrupulously researched and richly enjoyable.

John Preston, Mail on Sunday


Max Liu, Independent on Sunday

A cross between a series of critical essays and a connected history… Its great strength lies in the freshness of his critical responses… The sheer vitality of Taylor’s engagement with books…is infectious… Perceptive portraits and crisp judgments.

Stefan Collini, Guardian

[Taylor’s] grand historical survey, covering publishing, reviewing, writing, making a living, and teaching, charts the rise of the man of letters… Well researched and informative.

Michele Roberts, Financial Times

The breadth and precision of his reading are phenomenal. He digs forgotten names out of crannies in the literary landscape, and gives them flesh and blood.

John Carey, The Sunday Times

A bold undertaking.

Mark Amory, The Oldie


Simon Kuper, Financial Times

An entertaining history of modern literary life.

Nicholas Shakespeare, Telegraph

DJ Taylor’s compendious account of English literary life in the past 100 years offers an antidote to the notion that writing is a glamorous or profitable trade… Taylor conjures pungent portraits of the century’s major (and minor) literary figures.

Jane Shilling, Prospect

[Taylor] authoritatively guides the reader through an extraordinary gallery of individuals.

Kate McLoughlin, The Times Literary Supplement

A spirited dash through British literary culture since the end of the First World War… Taylor’s admiration for the men and women who have scraped – or raked – a living by their pens springs from every page of this energetic, affectionate, galvanising book.

Laura Freeman, Standpoint

Insightful, erudite but very readable.


I loved DJ Taylor’s The Prose Factory…a colourful and thoughtful study of the writer’s lot over the last century.

John Connolly, Irish Times

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    January 15, 2017


    528 pages

    RRP $27.99

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    January 7, 2016

    Vintage Digital

    528 pages

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