One Minute With... Elizabeth Jane Howard

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my daughter's house in Cheltenham, looking out at a charming stone lion in the garden.

What are you currently reading?

I'm reading a trilogy by Robertson Davies, it's the Deptford trilogies and I'm currently on the second volume. It's a wonderful book – I shall be very sad when I get to the end.

What distracts you from writing?

Everything. Absolutely everything. I rather like being interrupted – many people say they find interruptions irritating but I love to be interrupted.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

My readers come in every shape and size, from 11 to 92 years of age; their behaviour is naturally different. I have found that more women read my books than men. The novel is habitually the chosen form of the educated and it seems that fewer men are being educated these days.

Describe the room where you usually write

I write in my study, which is in my house in Suffolk. There is an open log fire, two windows and the walls are lined with all my books. I have a lovely desk, which was made for me by my neighbour. And lots of pictures – I like pictures. There is also an armchair there especially for my old Lurcher.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?


Choose a favourite author, and say why you like her/him

Elizabeth Taylor. It's very often said that writers are in the straight tradition of Austen, but of her it's true. She is very enchanting, very funny and very sharp. She paints a small canvas perfectly. I find myself coming back to re-read her, and that's the true acid test of a good author.

'Love All', by Elizabeth Jane Howard is published by Macmillan