Skip to Content

'Instinct, not planning'

17 October 2011

'I didn't know how many Dickens biographies there had been, how many books on London, it doesn't bother me. I just want to tell a story...

I was never an expert on Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde or Blake or Moore or Dickens or Turner before I started work on them. And then they're gone. None of my books has ever been in my head; after they're finished they go. It's like being a sort of medium; you just grab it when it's there then just release it when it's time to go. There's a lot of instinct, not planning.'

Peter Ackroyd, writer extraordinaire, in the Observer