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Writing Home

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  1,045 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
Bringing together the hilarious, revealing, and lucidly intelligent writing of one of England's best known literary figures, Writing Home includes the journalism, book and theater reviews, and diaries of Alan Bennett, as well as "The Lady in the Van," his unforgettable account of Miss Shepherd, a London eccentric who lived in a van in Bennett's garden for more than twenty ...more
ebook, 688 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Picador (first published January 1st 1994)
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Jun 08, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A.B.'s superb powers of observation, linked with an ability to translate his thoughts into a universal language of understanding which then makes them ours, is awe inspiring. The book covers a lot of ground - childhood to the date of publication (1994) and may be the closest we get to an autobiography from him.His plays, on and off screen, extracts from his diaries and pen portraits, which include his parents, friend Russell Harty, John Gielgud, Larkin and the irrepressible Miss Shepherd (The La ...more
Jul 27, 2009 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I took two years to read this book--and notice, I still gave it four stars. The book is written in sections, a little of this (Bennett's diary entries) and a little of that (Bennett's book reviews), so you can come and go as you please.

Bennett, a British writer and playwright (think The Madness of King George and British TV shows and plays you've probably never heard of---well, at least I hadn't), has wonderful, spot-on observations about life and great stories about the theater world. S
Mar 24, 2016 Marjorie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a lovely read. I had many chuckles and smiles while reading this. It also gives a history of his time in the arts from about the mid 1960s to now. I did not recognize many of the names but those familiar with British theater would enjoy this book even more than I.
I am a reader who likes sentences. The way he can place a word in a sentence and make the incident come to life or bring a smile I found delightful.
I enjoyed the movie, THE LADY IN THE VAN. His diary excerpts I thought we
Excellent for those who already like Bennett. Not ideal as an introduction to him.
Apr 18, 2016 Ryan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Can't say I enjoyed this one anywhere near as much as the great man's work
Aug 21, 2012 Fiona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favourite AB compilation because it contains the wonderful Lady in a Van which I've had the unadulterated pleasure of seeing twice on stage (Theatre by the Lake, Keswick).
A tricky one to rate, as it's a collection of his writings. My enjoyment of different sections was quite varied. His early diaries were fascinating, entertaining, bittersweet & very "northern". It's no great surprise that I liked these. 'The Lady in the Van' is worthy of five stars-fantastic. His 'Prefaces to Plays' and 'Filming and Rehearsing' went on for nearly 150 pages. I think these could have been cut by at least 50%. Bennett is 81 years old & as I read the book, our gap in age bec ...more
Dec 26, 2007 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilariously funny and brilliant collection of essays, literary criticism, diary excerpts and other short writing from a British comedian and playwright that I really ought to have known by name, but did not despite having a heard of a number of plays and films which he wrote. Most recently, The History Boys ran on Broadway for half of 2006 to considerable acclaim, forcing me [though I did not see it] it to reconsider my rule that no play called anything Boys is worth seeing - perhaps I can still ...more
Jun 17, 2009 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This feels like the textbook for the advanced Alan Bennett class. However, I haven't taken the intermediate and it's a prerequisite.

I'm past the beginner stage, at least, about Bennett: part of the groundbreaking British sketch comedy troupe Beyond the Fringe, cast member of various Amnesty International shows in the 1970s, one of Britain's great playwrights and writer of several films, most notably The Madness of King George and A Private Function.

He offers invaluable insight into the craft of
Alan Hughes
Jul 09, 2009 Alan Hughes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fiction
Bringing together the hilarious, revealing, and lucidly intelligent writing of one of England' s best known literary figures, "Writing Home" includes the journalism, book and theater reviews, and diaries of Alan Bennett, as well as " The Lady in the Van, " his unforgettable account of Miss Shepherd, a London eccentric who lived in a van in Bennett' s garden for more than twenty years. This revised and updated edition includes new material from the author, including more recent diaries and his in ...more
Nicola Pierce
Oct 09, 2016 Nicola Pierce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As it is a collection of different types of writings it is only natural to admit that I enjoyed some parts much more than others. However, this is the first time that I've read AB and am definitely interested in reading more by him. As a reader I enjoyed both his sense of humour and sense of justice and, as a writer, I thoroughly appreciated his honesty.
Jan 29, 2012 Mira rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really meaty tome and took me a long while to get through. It is well worth the reading hours as he writes beautifully and leaves thoughts like butterflies whirling around your head long after you've placed the book down.
Jun 10, 2008 Cecily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First volume of semi-autobiography, augmented by diaries and excerpts from other writings. Lots about the Lady in the Van (Miss Shepherd), prefaces and background to many of his plays, including a good essay about Kafka and quite a few obituaries/funeral tributes.

Patrick Cook
I picked up this book in used book stall in a church in Suburban Cambridge, which feels somehow indicative of Bennett's place in contemporary imagination. The British do something curious to their national literary icons, or at least to a subsection of them: they domesticate them, viewing them as cosy and about as controversial as a mug of tea with chocolate biscuits. With Betjeman one can understand how this happened: he played along with this image, although rarely without a sense of irony. It ...more
Anne-Marijn Küthe
An enjoyable read. Alan Bennett is a talented, versatile man.

'What nobody says about writing is that one can spend a whole morning, like this one, just trying to think of a name - the name of a character, the name of a place, or, as in this case, the name of a boarding house.'

'I read biographies backwards, beginning with the death. If that takes my fancy I go through the rest. Childhood seldom interests me at all.'
May 12, 2017 PenelopeSpider rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Re-reading this. Bennett is at his best when writing about Leeds and his family. Also 'The Lady In The Van' - fantastic read. Beautiful, mournful, funny - and eminently quotable. Felt ill today so re-read this as 'comfort reading'. Returning to the familiar and much loved.

Intros to the plays were of less interest to me but might be the best bits for others.
Jul 11, 2017 Carlton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Marvelous, marvelous, marvelous!
See last essay ☺
Harvey Tordoff
Dec 22, 2014 Harvey Tordoff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Over the years I have read a lot of Alan Bennett, seen his stage plays, watched his TV dramas and monologues, so I guess that makes me a fan. I suspect that's not something the Leeds schoolboy would have aspired to, having fans. You have to make a bit of a fuss to get noticed and have fans, and his Mam and Dad would have been mortified by that idea.

This book is a compilation, or a bit of an assortment, of Bennett's work. Some of it was familiar to me, some was new, but the wide range of subject
J V Woods
I struggled at times.

I made myself read this to the end. It was a struggle. Unless you have had a good literary education you do not understand who Bennett is writing about. Kafka's name is mentioned a lot so I have downloaded some works by the man to find out what is so special about him. I have never had the opportunity to go to the theatre or the funds...the Welsh Marches don't do theatre.
Alan Bennett does put himself down a lot and it seems like a bit of inverted snobbery. Not sure if he rea
The lessen I have learnt from this collection, is that I have not read enough, not by far. I dipped in and out of a brain who is comfortable with Kafka, Larkin, Auden, Proust, and other intelligent poets and writers. But this is not a stuffy intellectual brain, but a thoughtful, patient, kind, modest brain, who can express himself in a colourful aware of sentences.

Through this collection of essay's, dairies, prefaces and general musings you see a very different view of the 60's, 70's and 80's.
Dec 03, 2009 Ted rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alan Bennett was a founding member of Beyond the Fringe, successors to the Goons and predecessors to Monty Python. Since His early success he has become know primarily as a play write (An Englishman Abroad, The Madness of King George among many others).

This book is a collection of memories and diary excerpts, occasional pieces, and a few oddments that fit no category. The running thread through them all is a bemused view of English life and particularly the English writerly life.

The major probl
Sep 20, 2016 Flapper72 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life-stories
Enjoyable. I've read 'The Lady in the Van' and it gave me an interest into Alan Bennett and and quite who he was. After his writing about himself, his upbringing, his musing and diary I'd still like to read more. I hadn't seen a great deal of his work (other than, 'The Madness of King George') so just read his diary as that of a man living through the twentieth century born and brought up in Leeds and being educated at Oxford. I found his diary particularly interesting as he passed comment on Ma ...more
Jeff Howells
Dec 27, 2014 Jeff Howells rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great rag tag collection of Alan Bennett's prose writings (diaries, intros to plays, reviews) I remember that this book was immensely popular when it was first published so I can't believe it's taken me so long to get around to reading it. The only disappointing thing about reading it is that when Bennett reviewed Philip Larkin's biography you discover that he didn't particularly like Larkin as a person. That aside, every page has something that makes me laugh (out loud) or nod in agreement. L ...more
Nov 14, 2014 Christine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-book
I actually really like Alan Bennett but this was just too much of everything, I dare say that the publishers don't expect the reader to sit and read the book from cover to cover but rather to dip into it when they feel like it but I'm a bit of a masochist like that and once I've started a book I will finish it come hell or high water. I really enjoyed the Lady in the Van and there are a lot of interesting little anecdotes about various rich and famous people but you would have to be a real die h ...more
Aug 02, 2009 umberto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I have never heard his name as a writer, in fact he is one of England's leading playwrights as mentioned at its back cover. However, I kept reading any title I liked and found "The Lady in the Van" fantastic since he wrote from his life, in other words, from the true account of a lady tramp who lived and stayed in his garden for fifteen years. Very interesting.
Interestingly, I still find this book more readable than his 'Untold Stories' since this one has been printed with larger fonts so I enjo
three stars? four stars?

Sometimes I do this. Instead of reading biograpy or memoir of someone I know(in the broadest sense), I read those of complete stranger to me. I've read one book by Bennett before reading this and I have no idea whatsoever who he is or what he does.

Regardless, Bennett is a writer I can really enjoy. I especially loved the part about the woman living on his garden and his diary entries. Some of his review and essay rather plodding for me to follow. Maybe it's because I was
Aug 15, 2007 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes thoughtful writing
Kate Bush can sing pi to umpteen digits and make it sound beautiful. I'm not sure about Alan Bennett's singing voice but he is someone who I could listen to pretty much all day with that calm, measured, slightly hesitatnt way of his ... and he writes that way too.

Bennett excels when it comes to observational writing; who else could have written the Talking Heads monologues and got Thora Hird to swear and then defend Bennett afterwards?

He's also the kind of writer where you literally can pick up
Philip Whiteland
May 15, 2012 Philip Whiteland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first collection of stories and something of a mixture. Not nearly as frank and open as Untold Stores, which is still my favourite. I remember that I found 'The Lady in the Van' saga exasperating when I first read it, but I was more struck by his patience and social conscience this time (which probably has something to do with my age, lack of patience and absence of social conscience).
Derek Bridge
The first three sections of this collection are a delight: reminiscences, funeral orations and diary entries, written in Bennet's wry, warm and very English tone. The alienation of class through education is especially poignant.

The later sections (prefaces to plays, and writing of a more literary nature) have occasional pleasures, but, perhaps because the subjects are more distant from one's own personal experiences, are sometimes harder to like.
May 11, 2016 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What Alan Bennett proves over and over is the sheer humanity he shares with us. And how lucky we are to live in an era that has [finally] allowed him such generosity. Writing Home combines the various observations, mini-adventures, and thoughts from dim-light to sunburst, all expressed with wit and charm. There aren't too many literary works of such impeccable precision that have made me laugh out loud and startled the cat -- this is one!
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Alan Bennett is an English author and Tony Award-winning playwright. Bennett's first stage play, Forty Years On, was produced in 1968. Many television, stage and radio plays followed, along with screenplays, short stories, novellas, a large body of non-fictional prose and broadcasting, and many appearances as
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“...But what is it all about, what am I trying to do, is there a message? Nobody knows, and I certainly don't. If one could answer these questions in any other way than by writing what one has written, then there would be no point in writing at all.” 4 likes
“and when Mrs Thatcher came to the college for a scientific symposium Tyson was deputed to take her round the Common Room. This is hung with portraits and photographs of dead fellows, including one of the economist G. D. H. Cole. Tyson planned to take Mrs Thatcher up to it saying, ‘And this, Prime Minister, is a former fellow, G. D. H. Dole.’ Whereupon, with luck, Mrs Thatcher would have had to say, ‘Cole not Dole.’ In the event he did take her round but lost his nerve.” 0 likes
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