Modern Writers | Interviews with remarkable authors
CHANNEL | BBC 2
FIRST BROADCAST | 30 March 1968
DURATION | 26 minutes 32 seconds
John Izzard meets with JRR Tolkien at his home, walking with him through the Oxford locations that he loves while hearing the author's own views about his wildly successful high-fantasy novels. Tolkien shares his love of nature and beer and his admiration for 'trenchermen' in this genial and affectionate programme. The brief interviews with Oxford students that are dotted throughout reveal the full range of opinions elicited by 'The Lord of the Rings', from wild enthusiasm to mild contempt.
Tolkien fell in love with Edith Bratt when he was 16. They were then separated for five years because his guardian refused to allow him to contact Edith until he was 21. They married on 22 March 1916, just before Tolkien departed to serve in France during World War I, and remained a close and devoted couple until Edith's death in 1971. Tolkien had the name 'Luthien' engraved on her headstone and then, when he died in 1973, was buried in the same grave and had the name 'Beren' added to the memorial. Tolkien described the epic love story of the Elvish princess Luthien and the mortal Beren in 'The Silmarillion'. In the universe of 'The Lord of the Rings', it is considered to be the greatest romance of the Elder Days.
Virginia Woolf describes the mysterious demands and duplicity of words.
Malcolm Muggeridge quizzes Somerset Maugham on his top ten novels.
The importance of creating strong characters in fiction.
The writer ponders the success of 'Lucky Jim' and his latest novels.
John Lehmann explores the 'brave new world' of Aldous Huxley.
The creator of Jeeves and Wooster talks about his writing life.
EM Forster, in Cambridge, reflects on his life and work.
Arthurian legend and English traditions explored.
The author of 'Lord of the Flies' discusses his work and influences.
'I'm a person who rather thrives on being a foreigner.'
John Wyndham discusses the nature of evil in his novels.
Debating the artistic conflict between freedom and form.
Strong opinions from the author of 'The Alexandria Quartet'.
The author of 'I, Claudius' converses with Malcolm Muggeridge.
The false and lonely world of the writer.
A portrait of the artist as a young woman.
The views of the author and Oxford's students on Tolkien's Middle-earth epics.
A rare interview with Daphne du Maurier.
Braine's passionate defence of the ordinary and the suburban.
Muriel Spark talks to W Gordon Smith at her elegant home in Rome.
Truth and sadness in fiction.
The novelist, journalist, literary critic and feminist talks about her life and loves.
Melvyn Bragg talks to John Fowles at his home in Lyme Regis.
Melvyn Bragg meets the author of 'The Ipcress File'.
Moving on from short stories to novels.
Doris Lessing describes a life spent in unwilling judgement of civilisation's flaws.
Can Dr Anthony Clare cure Beryl Bainbridge's case of writer's block?
Paul Allen speaks to the creator of 'Billy Liar'.
The emotional forces driving the work of Anthony Burgess.
Studying the secrets revealed by tragedy.
Refusing to write about the bourgeoisie and their cleaning ladies.
The making of a modern novelist.
The perception and scrutiny that drive a great writer.
Jeanette Winterson talks openly to Jeremy Isaacs.
'The novelist of her generation who will last.'
The Booker Prize-winner and art critic discusses his work.
The Booker Prize-winning novelist discusses her work.
The author of 'Moon Tiger' discusses her work.
A wide-ranging interview with the author of 'Birdsong'.
Philip Pullman explains 'His Dark Materials'.
James Naughtie speaks to Salman Rushdie about 'Midnight's Children'.
Yann Martel speaks about his award-winning book 'Life of Pi'.
The author of 'The Regeneration Trilogy' talks about her books.
A wide-ranging interview with the Nobel Prize-winning author of 'Beloved'.
Andrew Marr interviews Kazuo Ishiguro.
The novelist discusses 'The Buddha of Suburbia'.
The 'chick-lit' writer talks frankly about her life and career.
The author of 'Brick Lane' on sudden success and the myth of the difficult second novel.
Zina Saro-Wiwa interviews writer David Mitchell.
The author of 'Notes on a Scandal' discusses what fiction is all about.
Philip Dodd speaks to Zadie Smith, author of 'White Teeth'.
The writer looks back over his life and prolific career.
The author discusses why thinking matters just as much as feeling.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.