Compiling this Guardian/Observer list of 100 great novels in the English language, and rediscovering old favourites from week to week, has become as much an autobiographical as a literary process. I keep meeting my juvenile self in forgotten states and discarded guises: sitting in a cricket pavilion on a wet summer's afternoon with The Code of the Woosters; roaming Dorset on a bicycle, aged 15, with Jude The Obscure, or was it The Mayor of Casterbridge? Eking out the tedium of school with a copy of Vanity Fair; by the seaside with Middlemarch, and so on.
I'm also having to recognise how late I came to some of the very greatest entries in this list: perhaps twenty-something before I even opened The Great Gatsby; and at least 30 before I completed my reading of Austen's classic six. In advance of this project, I loosely sketched a draft list at the outset, but it keeps changing.
Now, having written some 10 entries, and got as far as 1838 with Edgar Allan Poe, and the Americans, I'm worrying about some of my omissions. No Horace Walpole.