I’m more socialist certainly than New Labour – I’m very old Labour, really.
I can’t complain that I’ve had a public all through my writing life, but people don’t quite know what I’ve written. People don’t read you too closely. Perhaps, after I’ve died, they’ll look at my stuff, and read it through, and find there’s more in it. That may be wrong, but that’s what I comfort myself with.
Sometimes, particularly in summers in New York, I have tried to write in shorts or with no shirt on and found myself unable to do so, the reason being, I take it, that writing, even of the most impersonal sort, is for me a divestment, a striptease, even, so that if I start off undressed, I have nowhere to go.
I’d somehow always thought of the classics of literature as something apart from me, something to do with academic life and not something you enjoyed.
I’ve been very lucky in everything, really – in my career and in finding someone to share my life with, and in not dying.
My films are about embarrassment.
Cancer, like any other illness, is a bore.
I don’t want to see libraries close; I want to find local solutions that will make them sustainable.
We were put to Dickens as children but it never quite took. That unremitting humanity soon had me cheesed off.
I have no nickname, as there has never been any need for one.
I always like to break out and address the audience. In ‘The History Boys’, for instance, without any ado, the boys will suddenly turn and talk to the audience and then go back into the action. I find it more adventurous doing it in prose than on the stage, but I like being able to make the reader suddenly sit up.
Definition of a classic: a book everyone is assumed to have read and often thinks they have.
Life is like a box of sardines and we are all looking for the key.
Full-blooded romantic love I wouldn’t be able to write about.
I do not long for the world as it was when I was a child. I do not long for the person I was in that world. I do not want to be the person I am now in that world then. None of the forms nostalgia can take fits. I found childhood boring. I was glad it was over.