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Letter: Writer has not been 'seen off'

MARIANNE Macdonald describes me as an 'English biographer' and, in particular, as the would-be biographer of R S Thomas ('Biographers: they can go to hell', 25 September). She writes that I have been 'seen off'.

To begin with, I am not an English biographer. Second, the book I am writing about R S Thomas is also not a biography, at least in any formal sense. It will be about the poet's work and its relationship to his subject matter. This I have explained to Mr Thomas. Third, I have not been 'seen off', by Mr Thomas or by anyone else. Indeed my publisher, HarperCollins, remains firmly behind me. Furious Interiors goes ahead and will be published.

I would gladly have clarified matters for Ms Macdonald if she had contacted me. She also failed to address the key issue in the relations between writers and their commentators. Of course we would all like to control what is written and said about us. But have we the right when we ourselves have taken active and wilful steps to disseminate our own opinions and ideas as widely as we can? What interests me about Thomas is the nature of his views, as well as how he has expressed them. Where those views are only explicable in terms of the life, then the life becomes a legitimate object of enquiry.

Justin Wintle

London SW5