We asked our publicists which departed writers they would most like to hang out with, and the results were rather revealing! Leave a comment to let us know which literary figure you would bring back from the dead and why.
Joe Pickering, Publicity Manager
I’d most like to meet Samuel Beckett. When I was 18 a friend of the family took me to see every single one of his plays during a season at the Barbican. Not everyone’s idea of fun, I know, but I loved a lot of what I saw and was struck when the friend, in his 50s, said he was sad he’d never got to meet him. This was way, way before I’d ever entertained the idea of working in publishing and getting to meet great authors all the time, and I was puzzled at the idea my friend had even thought this could be a possibility. Meeting Samuel Beckett wouldn’t just be meeting a literary hero, it would be meeting someone who has had a profound influence on theatre, the modern novel, and even has a phrase that typifies a certain mood or theme: Beckettian. I’d like to meet him because I love his work but because I feel sure he’d just be a fairly normal, shy, slightly intense person – someone you could take on a stock signing tour round London in a cab and just talk about cricket with.
Lija Kresowaty, Publicity Assistant
As my love for the Little House books borders on obsession (ok, I passed that border years ago), I’d like to hang out with Laura Ingalls Wilder. She’d teach me useful skills like making a straw tick mattress (handy), cooking up some apples and onions (delicious) and fashioning a balloon to play with out of a pig’s bladder (resourceful). She’d also make sure I keep any potential vanity in check with a stern “Pretty is as pretty does.” She was a tough lady, and suspiciously feminist, though I don’t think she ever would have admitted it at the time (she wasn’t into the woman’s vote).
Ben Brusey, Viking Editorial Assistant
My dead author buddy of choice would be Ernest Hemingway. And we'd go for a night out on the town.
A real manly man who liked nothing more than to drink, fish, hunt, seduce beautiful women, play with his cats (he loved cats) and of course to write. A Moveable Feast chronicles the period when he was living in sexy Paris with lots of other writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein. His encounters with them are fascinating, and often boozy, and he paints an incredibly evocative portrait of the time. Despite all of Hem's flaws, and there were many, he was dedicated to his craft as a writer, and what comes across so strongly in the book is his amazing worth ethic, discipline and desire to push himself. It's funny, sad, and often very beautiful.
If you like Hemingway and find yourself in Florida, I'd highly recommend visiting the house he lived in on Key West, which is an island not far from Cuba where he lived with his wife and cats. They still have cats on the site who are descendents of his own, and they all weirdly have huge paws with six toes.
Amelia Fairney, Publicity Director
The deceased literary figure I would most like to meet would have to be John Keats – my favourite poet and a true literary immortal. He had a tragically short and sad life, but his poems have brought joy and understanding to millions all over the world, and wouldn't it be great to be able to go back and tell him that? He didn't even get good reviews when they were first published!
For those without plans for the long weekend I recommend a visit to Keats' house in Hampstead, where he lived briefly with Fanny Brawne, which has many original letters, possessions and manuscripts on display, and a lovely mulberry tree in the garden perfect for picnicking under – while reading one of those enduring poems…
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—
No–yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever–or else swoon to death.