RSL Review: 2012

Highlights include Maggie Gee on the crisis in public libraries, Victoria Glendinning and Claire Tomalin in conversation and Maggie Fergusson on her twenty years with the RSL.

Articles from this issue

The Most Precious Book I Own

Irenosen Okojie pays tribute to Toni Morrison's novel of kaleidoscopic beauty.

Against oblivion

As she is introduced as President of the RSL, Marina Warner addresses Fellows and Members on the duty of writers to retell history.

Speaking Volumes

Sue Gaisford drinks rose tea with the RSL’s new President Marina Warner.

A New Golden Age

Children’s writer S.F. Said on how Philip Pullman has changed the literary landscape.

40 Under 40

As the RSL prepares to elect a band of younger Fellows, nine writers made Fellows in their twenties and thirties remember what it meant to them.

The Temptation of Big Empty Spaces

Julia Copus talks with Ian McGuire, winner of the 2017 RSL Encore Award.

Words and Music

Poet David Harsent and composer Harrison Birtwistle have worked together for over 30 years. They talk to Maggie Fergusson

Second novels

Three novelists consider their own second novels

Whatever next?

As the RSL takes on the administration of the Encore Award for best second novel, arts journalist Alex Clark, chair of this year’s judges, reflects on the joys and pitfalls of the fictional follow-up

Top Girls

Women are increasingly taking lead roles in the theatre, but there’s still a long way to go. Tanika Gupta examines the glass ceiling

Now we are (round about) sixty

Five RSL Fellows remember the books they loved as children.

Realms of Gold: Rose Tremain on forty years of writing

Rose Tremain reviews forty years of fictional wanderings.

Susannah Herbert on the resilience of poetry

Jamal Mahjoub on why publishers need to recognise the world’s complexity

Photo by Aisha Seeberg.

Being Human

An interview with the RSL’s new Director, Tim Robertson

Arts Council England must treat literature more fairly

Vivat! Vivat Regina!

It is no longer fashionable to divide history into monarchs’ reigns. But if we take the last 60 years to be the second Elizabethan Age, what characterises its literature? As the RSL’s Patron celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, seven writers give their views

The illusion of biography

Claire Tomalin and Victoria Glendinning discuss the biographer’s art

All my yesterdays

A diary is the most obsessive and least communicative of literary forms. Compulsive chronicler Elisa Segrave considers its appeal.

When the world is economic crisis, how are writers to respond?

A passage to Mexico

Anita Desai talks to fellow novelist Maggie Gee about the creative process, the many changes her writing has undergone, and her encounters with different cultures.

With a paper knife in the library

Linda Kelly considers the love of 'real' writers for detective fiction.

Once upon a time

'Tom's Midnight Garden' has enchanted generations of young readers. Almost 50 years after writing it, Philippa Pearce reflects on her career and the changes she has seen in children's fiction

After Agatha

P.D. James and Ruth Rendell discuss the development of crime writing since the age of Agatha Christie, and why it deserves to be taken as seriously as 'mainstream' fiction

Cross-hatching a plot

Paul Gravett traces the rise of the graphic novel to respectability.

Roll out the novel

Alan Judd salutes fiction of the Second World War.

Raj duet 

Hilary Spurling examins M.M. Kaye's unlikely friendship with Paul Scott

Belles at midnight

Stephanie Meyer's vampire novels are the latest reading sensation amongst teenage girls. Lucasta Miller looks at the continuing - and ambiguous - appeal of the gothic for female readers and writers.

Life is tweet: Margaret Atwood on her passion for new technology

Xandra Bingley quizzes Margaret Atwood about her passion for new technology

The missing piece of the jigsaw: John Carey on meeting someone from William Golding’s past

When John Carey wrote his biography of William Golding, one thing eluded him: the fate of Golding's first fiancee Mollie Evans. Then, at a talk following the book's publication, a stranger came up to him...

The golden sketchbook – writers’ portraits

What can portraits tell us about writers? The RSL and National Portrait Gallery joined forces to find out

The Road from Damascus: Colin Thubron considers past versions of himself, and the future of literature

Anne Chisholm: The human factor

Anne Chisholm spent ten years working on her biography of Frances Partridge. She describes how her work coalesced with her own life

Penelope Lively and Helen Simpson on literary brevity

Penelope Lively, Helen Simpson, William Skidelsky and Alison Samuel discuss the short story at the award of the 2009 V.S. Pritchett Prize

A is for Anger: Michael Holroyd on Stephen Potter

Michael Holroyd on why Stephen Potter's 'Gamemanship' is a better guide to life than 'Mein Kampf'.

A is for Anger: Michael Holroyd on Stephen Potter

Michael Holroyd on why Stephen Potter's 'Gamemanship' is a better guide to life than 'Mein Kampf'.

Lost and found in London: Romesh Gunesekera on the lure of the capital

Romesh Gunesekera considers the lure of the capital for an author

Michael Morpurgo on child literacy

Michael Morpurgo examines the lamentable standard of literacy among children

A vanishing and a Christmas quarrel: on the emotion behind Thomas Hardy’s Christmas cards

Anthony Gardner on the high emotions behind Thomas Hardy's Christmas cards.

The fundamental paradox: Michael Frayn and A.C. Grayling on philosophy and writing

Michael Frayn talks to A.C. Grayling about philosophy and its bearing on his plays and novels

Bankers daft: Michael Holroyd on the inability of banks to deal with writers

Immortal prose: how to preserve a writer’s work by James Fergusson

As the technology of publishing changes, what is the best way to preserve a writer's work for posterity? James Fergusson investigates.

Words and deeds: Caroline Moorehead on her work with refugees in Cairo

Caroline Moorehead explains how her biographies of two women led her to work with refugees in Cairo.

How to beat the Bounderbys: Jonathan Keates reviews the rewards and difficulties of teaching

Jonathan Keates recently celebrated 30 years of teaching English at the City of London School. Here he reviews the rewards and increasing frustrations of his profession.

Benson and hedging: James Fergusson reveals a high profile dispute over the RSL Benson Medal

James Fergusson reveals how a dispute over the Benson Medal split the RSL and set Siegfried Sassoon against T. Sturge Moore

Letter from Shortlist Land: Ysenda Maxtone Graham on being a nominee-turned-judge

Ysenda Maxtone Graham describes her experiences as nominee-turned-judge of a literary prize.

The house of fame

A narrative gift: Katie Waldegrave on her charity, First Story

Katie Waldegrave describes how First Story's team of writers is giving new confidence to schoolchildren

Richard Eyre on cuts to the arts

Richard Eyre warns against spending cuts to the arts and humanities

Diffuse muses – Fiona Sampson on writers and music or art

Fiona Sampson considers writers who are also artists or musicians

Mid-life memoir

Crispin Jackson reviews The Cosmo Davenport-Hines Memorial Meeting, Mid-life memoir, featuring Damian Barr and Tracey Thorn, chaired by Susannah Clapp at Somerset House on Wednesday 8th May 2013.

Bound for glory: Crispin Jackson on book art

Far from surrendering to e-publishing, the traditional book is acquiring ever more imaginative forms, Crispin Jackson reports.

The Lingua Franca: Colin Thubron on translated literature

The President’s address to the AGM: 28 June 2012

Kate Pullinger thrills to the rise of digital fiction

I sing the body of work electric

Found in Translation

Of the thousands of books published in Britain each year, only a handful are translated from foreign languages. Given the dominance of English as the international language of business and politics, perhaps our literary chauvinism is inevitable.

Found in Translation

Of the thousands of books published in Britain each year, only a handful are translated from foreign languages. Given the dominance of English as the international language of business and politics, perhaps our literary chauvinism is inevitable.