Literary Birthday – 25 March – Gabriel Fielding

Gabriel Fielding was born 25 March 1916, and died 27 November 1986.


  1. The mere habit of writing, of constantly keeping at it, of never giving up, ultimately teaches you how to write.
  2. Writing to me is a voyage, an odyssey, a discovery, because I’m never certain of precisely what I will find.
  3. I do write out of pain—I believe most writers do.
  4. I felt that nothing had been wasted. I realised that what I’d stored up and had not so far used, formed a rich deposit. Once I started writing I could use this, not from a sense of morbidity or self-pity, but for some larger objective. I felt I’d gained insight into lust, into passion, into despair, into everything by which men are wooed. Thus the very act of writing seemed to release the energy of those organic areas which before had been stored in unused reservoirs.
  5. I know that when I’m writing well I have a feeling of having come into my own, everything seems justified.
  6. I do think these three things—the function of entertaining, with its accompanying poetic function; the function of instruction, and finally, the function of wisdom, must distinguish the writer.
  7. The act of writing, and its success, involves the expected satisfactions: vanity and the excitement of being in the limelight. When one has a product to sell, one wants it to be discussed.
  8. Medicine, to me, was a sentence I had to fulfil in order to be free to write.
  9. My advice would be to write—never to stop writing, to keep it up all the time, to be tremendously painstaking about it, to write until you begin to write. I’ve had to write so much in order to write so little.
  10. I believe that all writers who make the grade do so because writing, and only writing, is absolutely essential to them. No amount of talent will do the job if it isn’t backed with compulsion.
  11. I believe that the novel is presently in decline, and for a very paradoxical reason: the world is awakening to reading and to thinking. In other words, mass education, automation, the forty-hour week, and a neutral kind of leisure, is converting mass populations to reading, to watching television, to absorbing (or at least hearing and seeing) more. A surprisingly large segment of the audience convinces itself it can write too. Now, the reason that the novel is falling is because these people are turning out first novels—I know writers who are working on their sixth, numerically, but who are still writing their first. They’re subjective novels, full of boredom, frustration, sexual fantasy. In other words I believe that until the novel returns to its original function—which was only a bit lower than prophecy and poetry—it will not be read… Until the novel gets itself off the psychiatric couch and away from the kitchen sink and down from the steps of the brothel it will be neither entertaining nor rewarding.

Source for Quotes

Gabriel Fielding was the pen name of Alan Gabriel Barnsley, an English author. He was also a medical doctor. The British novelist’s works included: In the Time of Greenbloom, The Birthday King, and The Women of Guinea Lane.

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 25th March 2015

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