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BBC Writers Archive released

The BBC has today launched an online archive of interviews with 40 writers - covering everyone from Virginia Woolf to PG Wodehouse to JRR Tolkein to Salman Rushdie. It's a brilliant resource and also serves as a chronology of writerly attitudes - some constant, some not so, particularly apparent in the 1958 interview with Wodehouse who, having started writing in 1900, steered clear of anything remotely sexual. The legendary Frank Kermode interviews the late Iris Murdoch - talking about philosophy and novel writing; debating the conflict between freedom and form. She says novels have to do two things that can't easily be done together - they have to give a reader a sense of their own freedom and depth of character by giving them characters who have freedom and depth themselves. I like it when Kermode says in that early BBC clipped voice: 'Miss Murdoch is very fond of complex plots and she tends to write a lot about love'. There's also an interview with Angela Carter, 1991, in which she says she refuses to write about the bourgeoisie and their cleaning ladies.

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