Alan Bennett is an English playwright, screenwriter, actor and author. His collaboration as writer and performer with Dudley Moore, Jonathan Miller and Peter Cook in the satirical revue Beyond the Fringe at the 1960 Edinburgh Festival brought him instant fame. He gave up academia, and turned to writing full-time, his first stage play Forty Years On being produced in 1968.
He has won many prestigious awards for his writing. His prose collection Writing Home (1994), was followed by a sequel, Untold Stories, in 2005. The History Boys (2004), won the 2004 Evening Standard Award for Best Play of the Year and The Uncommon Reader (2007), is a novella in which the Queen develops a taste for reading.
His most recent play is Cocktail Sticks (2012). His 1999 play The Lady in the Van was recently made into a film with Dame Maggie Smith in the lead role. If you would like to read any of Alan’s books or plays, his work is widely available through Suffolk Libraries including his latest collection of prose, Keeping On Keeping On.
1. Who were your literary influences as you were growing up?
I loved the William books by Richmal Crompton because there were always more of them.
2. When you were growing up in Leeds did you ever think you could become a writer?
My mother had an exalted notion of writers (without always having read them) – The Brontes, Naomi Jacob, Leo Walmsley, Beverley Nichols. I suppose some of this may have rubbed off on me. It was never an ambition.
3. It’s a few years now since you wrote about Miss Shepherd in The Lady in the Van. How do you view that time now?
I’ve never regretted Miss S. A cynic would say she’s amply paid her rent!
4. Do you have a message for your many readers in Suffolk Libraries?
Use libraries – and vote for candidates who support libraries (and don’t read the Daily Mail).
5. Given a time machine and the ability to go backwards or forwards what date would you set the clock for and why? (assuming you could get back..)
I wouldn’t budge – past or future. Here and now does for me.
6. You have been interviewed dozens of times. Can you tell us one thing that people would not know about you?
I can’t answer this – I’ve no idea nowadays what the public knows- sorry!