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Writing Home

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,253 ratings  ·  62 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
Paperback, 688 pages
Published May 2nd 2003 by Picador (first published January 1st 1994)
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4.17  · 
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 ·  1,253 ratings  ·  62 reviews

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Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.

Polly Sands
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed my Bennett fix. I admittedly skipped some of the book reviews at the end, but loved the diary entries, especially when he is working on projects and the fledgling Lady in the Van sections.
The only thing I will say is that my version from a charity shop is slightly outdated, some of the language used in referring to people with disabilities and minority ethnic backgrounds are a bit old fashioned, not quite offensive, but a little jarring.
Apart from that, the writing is a delight and he
Jul 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Excellent for those who already like Bennett. Not ideal as an introduction to him.
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Can't say I enjoyed this one anywhere near as much as the great man's work
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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).
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was ok
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 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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it
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.
Richard Thomas
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The idiosyncratic authorial voice comes through on every page - pretty well on every word. A delight to own and to dip into. It is not for me a book to be read at a sitting but to be savoured and revisited as mood takes me.
Patrick Cook
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
Adam Mills
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
A collection of diary entries, essays, prefaces to plays and other miscellaneous pieces. Alan Bennett has a very amiable style of writing and is at times very funny. Some pieces are better than others with the highlights being the diary entries and the two pieces on Philip Larkin.
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
operatic flairs, like Wagner probably better than it was. isocritiques of oeurve's fun olio. some skimming. and skippings like stones on the ponder
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Read all in the diary entry section, Lady in the Van section, Madness of King George portion and various of the other writings. Well done.
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Marvellous writing (obviously), but I'm too young and not British enough to get most of the references.
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy Alan Bennett's writing style and in particular loved the Past and Present section.
Artie LeBlanc
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read over a number of weeks, partly because of length and partly to savour Bennett's unique style. Gives an honest insight into day to day life over his life, with self-deprecation and humour.
Ginny Kaczmarek
Mar 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Entertaining essays and diary entries about Bennett's long career. Amusing, informative and just a little bit dishy.
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Marvelous, marvelous, marvelous!
See last essay ☺
Harvey Tordoff
Dec 22, 2014 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
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.
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
Sep 20, 2016 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
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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
“30 November. My dustbin has been on its last legs for some time, and after the binmen have called this morning I find no trace of it. Never having heard of tautology, the binmen have put the dustbin in the dustbin.” 1 likes
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