Series 1

Series 1

Dr Cathy FitzGerald presents a series of lessons in creative writing with help from a ghostly array of great novelists, poets and playwrights.

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Reading and Listening List – The Invisible College

At Radio 4 we expect you to work for your radio treats. Here’s your Invisible College Homework - further reading and listening, set by Cathy Fitzgerald.

Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration and Get to Work by Mason Currey

Somerset Maugham found his opening lines in the bath. Edith Sitwell wrote in bed. Saul Bellow stood on his head to take a break. This funny, wide-ranging compendium by Mason Currey includes the working routines of more than a hundred and sixty philosophers, writers, composers and artists. 

The British Library’s Spoken Word Collection

Archive recordings of great writers - including many from the BBC - collected in an extensive series of CDs. The backbone of my research for ‘The Invisible College’. Don’t miss Nancy Mitford bemoaning her inability to add up and spell (The Spoken Word: British Writers).


Maria Popova’s brilliant ‘Brainpickings’ regularly includes great authors’ tips on writing and life. My highlight is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s letter to Frances Turnbull, a wannabe writer. “You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner.”

Writers at Work

This series from The Paris Review features interviews with all the greats, including TS Eliot, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and Dorothy Parker. Each conversation is introduced with a word-sketch of the writer’s study (George Plimpton’s description of Hemingway’s room is so detailed and visual you’ll feel like you’re there). 

The Poetry Center

From its home in New York - 92nd Street - The Poetry Society has hosted literary readings since 1939. Its website features archival recordings of some of the best writers of all time. Search for Truman Capote’s 1963 reading of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.

The BBC Archive Collection

Highlights from the BBC archive, featuring interviews with everyone from Aldous to Zadie. Includes a rare recording of Virginia Woolf.

 Plus these great writers on writing: 

  • Poetry in the Making, Ted Hughes
  • On Writing Eudora Welty
  • Henry Miller on Writing, Henry Miller
  • Ernest Hemingway on Writing, Ed. Larry W. Phillips
  • Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury
  • On Writing, Stephen King
  • Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing, Elmore Leonard
  • The Spooky Art, Norman Mailer


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Eight tips on writing from The Invisible College


Get inspired to write with these tips from great novelists, poets and playwrights.