Reading & Writing

To be a good writer you first have to be a good reader.

Three novelists – Susie Boyt, Tessa Hadley and Lucy Hughes-Hallett – discuss the importance of reading to them as writers. Who were their inspirations and what did they learn from them?

Susie Boyt, author of Love and Fame

‘There’s a special sort of merriment in the book and such a feast of particularity.’

Andrew O’Hagan

Tessa Hadley, author of Bad Dreams

‘These well-turned, exceptionally nuanced pieces are solidly evocative of place, period…and sensory detail.’ 

Sunday Times

Lucy Hughes-Hallett, author of Peculiar Ground

‘One of the best novels of the year.’

The Times

Susie Boyt

The daughter of Suzy Boyt and Lucian Freud, Susie Boyt was educated at Channing and at Camden School for Girls before getting a job in a PR agency for a year. Afterward, she studied at St Catherine’s College, Oxford to read English. Throughout her education, she had started to pose for her father’s portraits called ‘Susie I’, ‘Susie II’ and ‘Susie III’. Her first novel, The Normal Man, was published in 1995 by Weidenfeld and Nicholson. Her second, The Characters of Love, followed a year later and dealt with the feelings of alienation she had felt while studying at Oxford. She writes a weekly column for The Financial Times and lives with her husband and two daughters in London.

Tessa Hadley

Tessa Hadley is the author of six highly acclaimed novels and three short-story collections. In 2016 she was awarded the Windham Campbell Prize and the Hawthornden Prize. She teaches literature and creative writing at Bath Spa University. Her stories appear regularly in The New YorkerGranta and other magazines.

Lucy Hughes-Hallett

Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio, which won all three of the UK’s most prestigious prizes for non-fiction – the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Costa Biography Award – as well as the Political Book Awards Biography of the Year. Her other non-fiction books are the acclaimed cultural histories Heroes and Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions. Cleopatra won the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award.