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Episode 6

Even the most successful of writers have, at some point, had to take day jobs to pay the bills.

Ian Leslie presents the second series of this Radio 4 spoof documentary, which sheds light on the often surprising jobs done by the world's best known writers in the days before they were able to make a living from their art.

In a project of literary archaeology, Leslie unearths archive examples of early work by great writers, including Fortune Cookie messages written by Germaine Greer, a political manifesto by the young JK Rowling, and a car manual written by Dan Brown. In newspaper articles, advertising copy, and company correspondence, we get a fascinating glimpse into the embryonic development of our best-loved literary voices.

We may know them today for their novels, plays or poems but, once upon a time, they were just people with a dream - and a rent bill looming at the end of the month.

Producers: Anna Silver and Claire Broughton
A Hat Trick production for BBC Radio 4.

Release date:

15 minutes

Last on

Wed 13 Jan 2016 23:15


Role Contributor
PresenterIan Leslie
JK RowlingAbigail Burdess
Wayne Tibley BellMark Evans
Dan BrownSimon Kane
William BurroughsSimon Kane
Sylvia PlathKaty Wix
Germaine GreerKaty Wix
ProducerAnna Silver
ProducerClaire Broughton