University of Cambridge Contemporary Research Group

The novelist’s career

‘Nowadays, of course, writing is often seen as a profession like any other. To take this year’s Man Booker winner, Eleanor Catton, as an example of what might be seen as a novelist’s ideal career in 2013: one does a degree in English literature, and immediately afterwards a master’s degree in creative writing. Your first published novel is your MA thesis. Afterwards, you are given a post teaching creative writing in a university, and your second novel wins a major prize. Not to criticise the excellent Ms Catton, but this model of a novelist’s career is going to produce novelists with a narrow grasp of human experience, whose novels are increasingly going to have to come from historical research and meta-fictional game-playing and, ultimately, novels about creative writing degrees.’  Philip Hensher on Penelope Fitzgerald

Anyone want to argue with this, by now pretty standard, view?

1 Comment

  1. Yong Zhang

    I think it is really a good question. British writers need to rethink and reassess British history and the histories concerning Britain. Many questions are left to be given answers. But novels of historical research and meta-fictional game-playing are too popular to give British fiction a chance to develop fiction of other matters and aspects,etc.

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