I’ve been a Fellow of the RSL for several years, a Member of the Council for three, enjoying lively discussions of prizes and grants, education ventures and talks programmes. In January 2015 I will taking over as Chair of the Council from Anne Chisholm – a hard act to follow.
Before that, in November, my new book comes out, In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815. We’re all taught to avoid the lazy old cliché, ‘meanwhile across the Channel the French Revolution had broken out’. But one day I thought, hang on, it had broken out – what difference did it, and the twenty years of war that followed, make to ordinary people – farmers, bankers, shopkeepers, poets and paupers? It has been utterly fascinating to write, but I’m still full of nerves.
To take my mind off this I’ve been reading Richard Flanagan’s brilliant, chilling novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North, and Janice Hadlow’s cracking account of George III and the bizarre Hanoverians, The Strangest Family. Now I’m deep into The Accident by Chris Pavone – a page-turning thriller set in new York publishing circles – glad nothing like this happened when I was working at Chatto!
Fellows are nominated by peers and elected by our Council of writers – our governing Board. Being elected a Fellow of the RSL is a lifetime honour. This role gives them the opportunity to support other writers, readers and the future of literature. The RSL connects writers in the Fellowship to one another, and to a wider readership.