MPs vote Archer 'most-overrated' author of all time
Thursday 18 July 1996
The best-selling novelist just beat exiled author Salman Rushdie into second place in the poll of 129 MPs. Then came Henry James, Martin Amis, DH Lawrence, Enid Blyton and Iris Murdoch.
Surprisingly, Karl Marx got four votes - from Labour and Liberal MPs.
As the results of the survey were being released Lord Archer was at Harrods, signing copies of his latest novel The Fourth Estate. He was due to stay there until 1pm, but left ten minutes early - because not enough people turned up.
A Harrods sales assistant said: " There were not as many people as we expected so he left early."
Told of the result of the vote, Lord Archer replied curtly: "How wonderful." He refused to comment further.
Seventy-six Conservative, fifty Labour and three Liberal Democrat MPs replied to Dillons' first "Books in the House" questionnaire to discover what books politicians would be reading during the summer holidays.
And it is Lord Archer's books that are most likely to be left on the shelf, according to the survey.
A Dillons spokesman said: "He had 22 votes with Salman Rushdie on 20. Some added an exclamation mark against his name. Feelings obviously run high."
The Bible was chosen as the best-ever book and the favourite children's book was The Wind in the Willows, closely followed by Winnie the Pooh. Alexander Solzhenitsyn was voted the best living author.
Dillons managing director Joe Sinyor said: "We thought it was time to find out what our parliamentarians were planning to read over the summer recess. I was staggered by the range of replies.
"Some MPs adore literary fiction and history, and [some] believe that Solzhenitsyn is the best living writer."
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