Clive James: 'I'd love to write a play before I die'

Social affairs correspondent

Clive James, the terminally ill author and broadcaster, has said that he hopes to write a play before he dies because that’s “where the money is”.

James, who is 74, was diagnosed with leukaemia and emphysema in 2010 and has carried on writing throughout his illness. In an interview to be published in this week’s New Statesman, James describes how his work has become more honest as he gets closer to death.

“I almost died back there in 2010, twice as a matter of fact, and it did help me concentrate and I started to question my life and what I’d done. I was guilty that I hadn’t been a better husband and father and so on and honesty began to creep in, which is not necessarily the best thing to happen to a poet, but when it does happen it changes things,” he says.

“You have to have lived for a long time and be approaching the end of your life before you can see the world as I see it now, so I’m quite pleased with that even though I’m a bit terrified because it really is the mark of the end, isn’t it? One’s hoping to make a good exit.”

Asked about his projects, he said: “Fairly soon I’ll be going back to writing a book or two but I don’t know which one. I’d like to write a play, because for one thing it’s where the money is, but I’ve left it a bit late. It’s quite hard to be a playwright.

“I’d like to do a second volume of my book Cultural Amnesia, very much, but that’s a big, big task. And I’d like to do a last volume of memoirs. I’ve even got a bit of that written but I don’t quite know how to do it and I’m not so sure that it’s time.”

James also talked for the first time about his latest book, Poetry Notebook, which is a collection of his articles about poetry, due to be published in the autumn: “It pleases me that I’ve got something written that will be there to be published even if I drop off the twig, as we say in Australia.”

Speaking about the role of modern medicine in his survival, he adds: “I’m attached to the hospital by invisible tubes and wires and I’m very grateful to them. Boy, I’m in no doubt that everything depends on modern technology and plenty of cheap electricity.”

In 2012 James was forced to make clear that his death was not imminent after telling an interviewer that he was “getting near the end”. After the quotes garnered international attention, his spokesman made clear that he was “in fact in reasonable shape”.

The final words of the extracts from his New Statesman interview give an insight into his new drive: “I’m actually seeing more clearly now, even as my eyesight dims”.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments