Monday 26 May 2014

Q and A with Hugo Williams

Poet and journalist Hugo Williams
Poet and journalist Hugo Williams was born in 1942 and grew up in Sussex. He is author of more than a dozen poetry collections and was awarded the TS Eliot Prize for Billy’s Rain in 1999. Williams lives in London with his wife, Hermine Demoriane.

Who is your perfect reader?

Ian Hamilton, [the late] editor of The New Review.

Which books are on your bedside table?

The New Oxford Book of Sixteenth-Century Verse and The Faber Book of Love Poems edited by James Fenton.

Which book changed your life?

Life Studies by Robert Lowell.

When did you know you were going to be a writer?

No such knowledge ever occurred to me.

Where do you write best?

At my desk looking out at my back garden in London, listening to the birds.

What is the strangest thing you’ve done when researching a book?

Travelled round the world in 18 months, without flying.

What music helps you write?

Loud pop music such as Chuck Berry or Dr Feelgood.

Which literary character most resembles you?


Who would you most like to sit next to at a dinner party?

Brigitte Bardot.

Who would you choose to play you in a film about your life?

Alain Delon or David Bowie.

What are you scared of?

Illnesses of all kinds.

What keeps you awake at night?

A rumpled lower sheet.

When were you happiest?

Marriage day, October 1965.

When do you feel most free?

On a motorbike driving to Portugal.

How do you relax?

Making scrapbooks.

What is the best piece of advice a parent gave you?

Go on, ask her to dance.

When did you last cry?


What would you change about yourself?

My lack of stamina.

What book do you wish you’d written?

Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier.

How would you earn your living if you had to give up writing?


Where is your favourite place in the world?

Raleigh Street, Islington.

Who are your literary influences?

Ian Hamilton, Neil Rennie, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop.

What was the first novel you read?

Oliver Twist.

What novel would you give a child to introduce them to literature?


What does it mean to be a writer?

To be lost in a world of danger and fear.

Hugo William’s latest poetry collection ‘I Knew the Bride’ is published by Faber

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