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”.

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 Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home