A A Gill
Sue Lawley's castaway this week is the critic and columnist A A Gill. His witty, first-person articles have earned him a whole host of awards and a loyal following. But his life as a successful writer was preceded by more than a decade that was spent living in squalid squats, taking drugs and existing in an alcoholic haze. It was the unplanned intervention of a GP that made him face up to his alcoholism and seek treatment. It's now 21 years since he last had a drink and he has been given, he says, the chance to start again and live a second life.
He abandoned his early hopes of becoming an artist, for a while he ran cookery courses in his own home and, at the same time, he started writing. Despite suffering from dyslexia so severe that he has to dictate all his columns to copytakers he found his voice immediately - as soon as he began writing his articles, he says, he felt he had come home.
[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]
Favourite track: Love Song from Sanders of the River by Paul Robeson
Book: Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor by Mervyn Peake
Luxury: My children's pillows
Find every castaway from 1942 to the present. Listen to over 1,500 programmes.