Literary Birthday – 22 August – Diane Setterfield

Happy Birthday, Diane Setterfield, born 22 August 1964.


  1. Of course I loved books more than people.
  2. A birth is not really a beginning. Our lives at the start are not really our own but only the continuation of someone else’s story.
  3. There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.
  4. One gets so used to one’s own horrors, one forgets how they must seem to other people.
  5. What better place to kill time than a library?
  6. I came to reading early. It disappoints me that I can’t remember learning to read. I wish I knew what it was like not to be able to do it.
  7. Like many children I found the world confusing and complicated, and from a very early age books appeared to me as a way of making sense of life. This is still what reading is, at heart, for me.
  8. I have never worked in an antiquarian or second-hand bookshop, though I did once work in a library for a year, and in an ordinary bookshop for two weeks. However bookshops — of all kinds — are among my favourite places.
  9. I was a first-born, so I came into a home where there was no children’s library ready and waiting. All the books I read came one by one into the house, at birthdays, Christmases, as treats after visits to the dentist. And there were never enough!
  10. But silence is not a natural environment for stories. They need words. Without them they grown pale, sicken, and die. And then they haunt you.

Diane Setterfield is a British author whose 2006 debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale, became a New York Times #1 bestseller. Her second novel is Bellman & Black, and her third, Once Upon a River, will be published in early 2019. Follow her on Twitter: @DianeSetterfie1

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 22nd August 2013

0 thoughts on “Literary Birthday – 22 August – Diane Setterfield”

  1. Interestingly enough… if you ever want to know how it feels to be totally illiterate, visit a bookstore where the books are not only in a different language, but a different alphabet.

    Because there, you ARE illiterate.