Literary Birthday – 28 February – Tessa Hadley

Happy Birthday, Tessa Hadley, born 28 February 1956.


  1. I probably reread novels more often than I read new ones. The novel form is made for rereading. Novels are by their nature too long, too baggy, too full of things – you can’t hold them completely in your mind. This isn’t a flaw – it’s part of the novel’s richness: its length, multiplicity of aspects, and shapelessness resemble the length and shapelessness of life itself.
  2. I write about the middle class. I know everyone is embarrassed, but I love it.
  3. I love the irresponsibility of short stories. Writing short, you create with a free hand. Each new development you imagine can be drawn into the story without consequences, with all the lightning-bolt effect of a first thought, no requirement to elaborate a hinterland. A quickly scribbled indication of background can stand in for a whole city, a whole past.
  4. And yet I can’t stop wanting to write novels too. Novels see things through. The reader is in for the long term; the writer is in for a sizeable stretch of her life. In a novel there’s not only the dazzle of the moment, but also the slow blooming of the moment’s aftermath in time, its transformation over and over into new forms.
  5. I love to write about the present, and the past that’s recent enough for me to remember. The fiction writer’s ambition is modest and overweening: to take the imprint of the passing moment, capture it in the right words, keep it for the future to read.

Tessa Hadley is a British author. Her novels include Accidents in the HomeEverything Will Be All Right, The Pastand Clever Girl. She has published collections of short stories, including Bad Dreams and Other StoriesSunstroke and Other Stories, and Married Love. Her novels have twice reached the longlists of the Orange Prize and the Wales Book of the Year, and in 2016, she won one of the Windham–Campbell Literature Prizes for fiction.

Source for quotes 2-5.

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 28th February 2018