Four ways to view a literary genius

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Hunter Davies, journalist and author.

The idea of him being an angry young man is ridiculous. He was an entertainer - an entertaining, metropolitan Oxbridge person. He was a talented and fluent writer but he wasn't an original voice. He was an amusing person, a good chap who went to clubs and drank a lot and people liked him a lot. But really he was just an irascible old fart.

Joan Smith, critic, writer and feminist.

He is one of those people who becomes popular by reflecting back people's prejudices - nasty attitudes about class and women (in his books). A lot of people who read those things have sympathy with them and think "this is all right because it is literature". In his final years he was really a shambling and sad figure. I don't think he's someone whose lasting reputation is assured.

Mavis Nicholson - broadcaster and former Amis student at Swansea University.

He changed as he got older but I knew him when he was a very handsome, very witty, open- hearted gent with a refreshing approach. It was two years before Lucky Jim was published. He and Hilly were a glamorous couple, and he was left-wing then. He made everyone laugh. He was very "Scott- Fitzgerald".

Keith Waterhouse, journalist and playwright.

He has a very high place in literary history. He was a great storyteller, although he was much more than a storyteller. He will be badly missed at the Garrick Club where he became an absolute fixture. I will remember him with great affection. He was a curmudgeon but we all knew it was an act. It was very enjoyable.

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