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'I needed to be somebody'

5 January 2004

‘I started writing in earnest at 22. I thought: I am a wreck and have no money and am in poor health – and so how am I going to impose myself on the world? I was seethingly ambitious, I don’t make any secret of that. I needed to be somebody. The only way I could think of was by writing. Because all you need is paper and pencil and you can do it horizontal. But it was never an escape, nor was it the place I was running to – because it wasn’t a refuge – but it was what enabled me, it was my source of power…’

Hilary Mantel, in an interview with Kate Kellaway in the Observer on publication of her much-acclaimed memoir, Giving up the Ghost.