Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Monday 1 February 2010 7pm
Going Public PD James and Andrew Motion
Chaired by Colin Thubron
The Roy Jenkins Memorial Lecture
Is it possible to combine life as a writer with public service? P.D. James, Baroness James of Holland Park, has worked as a civil servant, a governor of the BBC and a magistrate while writing her detective stories, and Roy Jenkins, whom this evening commemorates, published four biographies while he was an active MP.
Yet Sir Andrew Motion admits that, in devoting himself to the post of Poet Laureate, he became quite unable to write poetry. ‘If you are leading a public life and speaking up for poetry,’ he has said, ‘the fully conscious mind will become dominant, which is wrong for the vital mix you need for writing poetry.’
What is the vital mix and should writers feel they have a duty of public service? Would either P.D. James or Andrew Motion organise their working lives differently if they could live them again? Colin Thubron, who, though reclusive by nature, is the new President of the Royal Society of Literature, umpires the discussion.
The Royal Society of Literature | Somerset House | Strand | London WC2R 1LA Tel: 020 7845 4676