BBC News

The New Yorker writer who didn't publish for 30 years

Joseph Mitchell is widely regarded as one of the great non-fiction writers in American letters. He also happened to suffer one of America's most infamous bouts of writer's block.

For 30 years Mitchell sat behind his typewriter at the New Yorker magazine without producing one single article for the celebrated publication.

In his new biography of Mitchell, author Thomas Kunkel reveals that his subject was working on a memoir but couldn't get beyond the first three chapters.

Before his disappearance from the New Yorker's pages in 1964, Mitchell had been acclaimed as ''the voice of New York'', penning intimate portraits of the city's colourful characters which are still much admired today.

In some of those stories, according to Kunkel, Mitchell also employed literary devices which pushed the boundaries of non-fiction writing to its limits.

Filmed and edited by Michael Maher