Francoise Sagan - Lived up to wild child image through flamboyant drinking, gambling and fast driving, leading to a near-fatal crash. Convicted of possessing cocaine in 1990. Back in the best-seller list with a new novel the following year. Has written scores of books and plays of which Bonjour Tristesse remains her most widely read and celebrated.

Shelagh Delaney - Left her Salford school in 1955 aged 16 and worked as a cinema usherette while writing her play A Taste of Honey about a teenage mother. The play, staged in London when she was 18, transferred to Broadway and was later filmed. Delaney has since published some short stories and written several screenplays including Dance With A Stranger. She avoids publicity and does not like talking to journalists.

Charlotte Bingham - Wrote her autobiography, Coronet Among the Weeds, about life as a London debutante, aged 19 in the early Sixties. Has since written over 100 TV plays and several best-selling novels. Her latest novel, Debutantes, is published in July.

Guy Burt - Left Charterhouse five years ago after A-levels and had his first novel, After The Hole, published. Went to Oxford and got a first in English while writing his second novel, Sophie. Has written screenplays for both. Now, aged 23, he teaches English at Eton and has written the first draft of his third novel, South of the City. Found flying to Hollywood at short notice to discuss film deals rather tiresome.

Patrick Gale - Since his teen debut on leaving Winchester, Gale, now 34, has published seven novels including Little Bits of Baby and The Cat Sanctuary. His collection of short stories, Dangerous Pleasures, is published in June. He divides his time between London and North Cornwall.

Susan Hill - Started writing in late teens and has continued to write prolifically with nearly 30 titles to her name. She lives in Oxford with her husband and two daughters.