He wrote 'Money'. But is Martin Amis really worth £3,000 an hour?

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The Independent Culture

Martin Amis is said to have once boasted that he never opens his bank statements. But if the novelist has since had a change of heart and checked his balance, he may be delighted to learn that he is earning close to £3,000-an-hour in his role as a professor of creative writing at the University of Manchester.

Amis, 58, was appointed last February as part of a £10m drive by the university to become one of the world's top educational establishments by 2015.

He is committed to working for 28 hours a year in this role, outside of his writing and research duties as a professor. This work earns him a salary of £80,000, according to the Manchester Evening News (MEN), which discovered the details of his salary using the Freedom of Information Act.

Amis holds 90-minute seminars for postgraduate students over 12 weeks, amounting to a grand total of 18 hours. For the remaining 10 hours, he is contracted to take part in four public events, as well as teaching at a summer school with master's students.

Last November, the university reduced staff numbers with 600 voluntary redundancies, but a statement defended Amis's appointment, saying that there had been a 50 per cent rise in applications for the creative writing course, from 100 to 150, since the writer joined.

A university spokesman added: "The University of Manchester is a research-intensive university, so writing and research must be factored into the salary of any academic. The amount of contact time with students and the general public represents only a proportion of any academic's salary.

"In addition, the salary paid to all new staff members in the Centre for New Writing (including the Booker nominee M J Hyland, the critic Kaye Mitchell and the poet Vona Groarke) will be funded by increased applications to the Centre for New Writing and the additional income those applications will create. Their presence in the centre confers direct benefits to students.

"The University of Manchester has an ambitious strategy to become one of the top 25 research-led universities in the world, and the presence of iconic scholars like Martin Amis is essential for the creation of a world-renowned centre of scholarship and research."

Responding to the news of Amis's salary, Dave Jones, the senior Unite union organiser who represents 600 staff at the university, told the MEN: "We understand why people like Martin Amis are being sought by the university, and recruitment is a competitive business. But I think those staff who are left after the various redundancies and early retirements need to know that there will also be investment into their careers as well, along with the new structure of the university."

For a writer who has claimed to be impervious to his bank balance, Amis famously fought hard to extract a £500,000 advance for his eighth novel, The Information, in 1995.

He instructed his then agent, Pat Kavanagh, to get the advance from Jonathan Cape, the publisher he had been attached to for more than 20 years. The amount was refused, leading Amis to find himself a new agent and publisher. At the time, he was quoted as saying: "People kept saying that I was the most influential novelist of my generation or whatever, and so I wanted to see what I was worth."

The author, who lives in London and commutes to Manchester, declined to comment. Speaking about his appointment, he predicted that the experience may inspire him to write a new book and that while he may write acerbic prose, he would find it "very difficult to say cruel things to [students] in such a vulnerable position".