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Writing Home Paperback – May 2, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Revised edition (May 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312422571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312422578
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,134,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Previously a bestseller in England, this eclectic collection of book reviews, essays and diary excerpts by screenwriter (The Madness of King George) and playwright (Single Spies) Bennett is a delightful blend of wit and intelligence. Bennett's writing career began in 1960, when he collaborated with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Jonathan Miller on the successful satiric review Beyond the Fringe. Diary excerpts from 1980-1990 document other theatrical and cinematic adventures and also describe, with Bennett's typical self-deprecating humor, his experiences in New York (he was mugged on the Lower East Side) and his trip to Russia with other writers. Bennett's social commentary on British politics and his critical articles about poet W.H. Auden, actor John Gielgud and playwright John Osborne are informed and perceptive. Also included is a memoir of his childhood during WWII, when he first became acquainted with books, and a moving account of a woman who lived in a van in front of his home in Camden, a borough of London. Photos. Author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Bennett, the playwright whose works include Forty Years On (1968) and An Englishman Abroad (1983), here brings together reminiscences of family and friends, character sketches of literary figures and famous people (e.g., Sir John Gielgud, John Osborne, Innes Lloyd), extracts from his diaries, and prefaces to some of his better-known plays. Some of the pieces were begun as radio talks for the BBC or published in the London Review of Books. Bennett touches on English society and literary life, the occupational hazards of writing plays, and writing for television vs. writing for the stage. He is an astute, erudite commentator, and there is much to chuckle over, including his thoughts on English eccentricity, rehearsals ("all the chat one has to go through"), and his hilarious experiences of "going round" after a performance. Anglophiles of all stripes will enjoy this book; highly recommended for serious collections in modern British literature and theater.?Lesley Jorbin, Cleveland State Univ. Lib.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Alan Bennett is a renowned playwright and essayist, a succession of whose plays have been staged at the Royal National Theatre and whose screenplay for The Madness of King George was nominated for an Academy Award. He made his first stage appearance with Beyond the Fringe and his latest play was The Lady in the Van with Maggie Smith. Episodes from his award-winning Talking Heads series have been shown on PBS. His first novel, The Clothes They Stood Up In, was published in 2000. He lives in London.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S J Buck on November 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
If there is a spark of humanity in you read this book. Alan Bennett was part of the satire boom in early 60's in the UK and when neccessary has a caustic dry wit that can catch you by surprise sometimes. However for me what comes through in this book is his humanity.

The first section of the book where this is highlighted is his address at the funeral of Russell Harty, which only amounts to 7 pages. Harty was a successful TV show host and interviewer in the UK, who was hounded by the press in the 1980's over his sexuality (he was homosexual and never tried to hide that fact). Bennetts address is full of compassion and will either leave you crying or plotting a nasty end to some of the gutter press.

'The Lady in the Van' is a full chapter (45 pages) and a completely true story. At one point it was available to buy as a seperate book and is taken largely from his diaries. In the 1970's and 1980's outside Alan Bennett's own house in Camden, London, an old lady (Miss Shepherd) lived in a Van in the street. After a time the local council decided she could no longer stay on the street. Amazingly Bennett allowed her to move her Van into his garden and there she remained until she died. This is truly a remarkable story. Bennett of course is a marvellous observer of people and there is a side of me that says he only did it so that he could watch her. However read 'The Lady in the Van' in full and you are left in doubt that Alan Bennett couldn't have done it for that reason, because Miss Shephard's living conditions were frankly disgusting and the smell.. well enough said. Its a truly moving and poignant story.

The diaries constitute a major section of the book amounting to 180 pages. These cover the years 1980 to 1995. There is a section of prefaces to plays as well as articles on writers and filming. These other sections of the book are of the same high standard of writing as the two I mention above, if not all on quite the same emotional level.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful By HAROLD J. REYNOLDS on December 12, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this country, I look for the least sign of God. It might be a dawn, the sound of music, laughter of an old person, giggling among my grandchildren, the prospect of the end of Bush's term, the golden silence of tv turned off, my wife's loving voice telling me to take out the garbage, take out the dog, take her out to a movie...and Alan Bennett's "Writing Home". What pleasure there is in this book. If you are literate and do not own it, reflect on what in your life has brought you into your miserable condition.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Theresa Twain on February 24, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is unbelievable that I'm the first person to review this fantastic book. The book itself is also unbelievable in its intelligence, wit, depth, color, interest, and sheer genius. Alan Bennett is one of the rarest minds of the 20th/21st century. If you're a real reader and you don't have this book, you damn well better buy it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By T.J. on July 21, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those Americans who have never heard of Alan Bennett and are wondering wether or not to get this book...I say go for it. But if you're looking for something exciting you may be disapointed. Mostly subdued, sometimes hillarious stories of a life. Don't miss "The Lady in the Van"!
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