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Episode 6

Join Ian Leslie for an exercise in literary archaeology as he unearths the early writing efforts of our best known novelists, poets and playwrights. From November 2013.

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.

15 minutes

Last on

Wed 13 Dec 2017 22:30

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Role Contributor
Presenter Ian Leslie
JK Rowling Abigail Burdess
Wayne Tibley Bell Mark Evans
Dan Brown Simon Kane
William Burroughs Simon Kane
Sylvia Plath Katy Wix
Germaine Greer Katy Wix
Producer Anna Silver
Producer Claire Broughton