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Writers and honours

If I were ever invited to accept an honour by my country would I take it? Should I? It may seem like a grandiose assumption to think of this even in hypothetical terms, but it is merely the entrance to a wider discussion of honours, what with it being the season for them. On the basis that they are bestowed for some extraordinary achievement that has benefitted society then an honour is a fitting tribute; for those who have achieved this within their day-job or career an honour could mean increased job security and an instant recognition that you have achieved something that your peers in the same industry (for which read 'competitors', as capitalism is, by nature, a competitive sport) have not. In this way it can be seen as a CV enhancer. But should those in the arts accept them? It would seem that many of the practitioners themselves have thought not, considering that many have refused them. The late writer, JG Ballard, called the honours system a 'preposterous charade' and refused to accept. Perhaps successful writers can afford to turn them down - and that far from it harming them in any way, actually enhances their status in the eyes of their readers, which, for the most part, may be readers simply because said writers provide books that engage in rigorous critique of society and its norms. This is a camp that Ballard certainly falls into. To accept an honour from the same society that he deconstructs, then, would be contradictory. It would indeed be a preposterous charade. It was the artist, LS Lowry, who turned down more honours than anyone - rejecting a total of five.

Others who said 'non!'

Ronald Dahl
Aldous Huxley
Evelyn Waugh
Graham Greene
JB Priestley
Robert Graves
Philip Larkin
CS Lewis
Eleanor Farjeon
Benjamin Zephaniah
Stanley Middleton
FR Leavis

Location:The London Library, St James's Square,London,United Kingdom

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