Alan Bennett

Literary Birthday – 9 May – Alan Bennett

Happy Birthday, Alan Bennett, born 9 May 1934.


  1. The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.
  2. You don’t put your life into your books, you find it there.
  3. Books are not about passing time. They’re about other lives. Other worlds. Far from wanting time to pass, one just wishes one had more of it. If one wanted to pass the time one could go to New Zealand.
  4. Life is rather like a tin of sardines – we’re all of us looking for the key.
  5. Art comes out of art; it begins with imitation, often in the form of parody, and it’s in the process of imitating the voice of others that one comes to learn the sound of one’s own.
  6. We started off trying to set up a small anarchist community, but people wouldn’t obey the rules.
  7. Kafka could never have written as he did had he lived in a house. His writing is that of someone whose whole life was spent in apartments, with lifts, stairwells, muffled voices behind closed doors, and sounds through walls. Put him in a nice detached villa and he’d never have written a word.
  8. A bookshelf is as particular to its owner as are his or her clothes; a personality is stamped on a library just as a shoe is shaped by the foot.
  9. What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren’t long enough for the reading she wanted to do.
  10. Clichés can be quite fun. That’s how they got to be clichés.
  11. I don’t talk very well. With writing, you’ve time to get it right. Also I’ve found the more I talk the less I write, and if I didn’t write no one would want me to talk anyway.

Alan Bennett is a British playwright, author, actor, and screenwriter. He is best known for The Madness of George III (1991) and The History Boys (2004). He examines the British class system, propriety, and England’s north-south cultural divide in his work. He is the author of The Uncommon Reader and the memoir, Untold Stories.

Source for quotes

Source for image: By Allan Warren – Own work Allan Warren Photography

Allan Warren, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 8th May 2021