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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Who is the greatest living writer of the British Isles?

How do we determine literary greatness? This is the question Andrew Motion asks in an online feature in the Arts’ Council Arts Debate.

The David Cohen Prize for Literature is awarded every two years to a writer from the UK or Ireland in recognition of a lifetime’s achievement in literature.

You get a chance to comment and vote for your own choice by following the above link, and then searching for ‘greatest writer’.

7 Responses to “Who is the greatest living writer of the British Isles?”

  1. V says:

    John LeCarre.

    jb says: He has to be in the top ten.

  2. kate says:

    Terry Pratchett.

    Under the humor is a profound understanding of human nature.

    jb says: Hi Kate. Not for me, this one. But my kids all think he’s great.

  3. David Duquette says:

    Best British writer — J. K. Rowling. She created a tale that inspired the Nintendo generation to put down their controllers and pick up a book!

  4. Thomas says:

    Terry Pratchett. Not all your kids think he is great:).
    As a child, I really loved Robert Louis Stevenson and Mark Twain. Oh dear just slipped the British Isles there. If we are talking about funny writers, how about John Baker. He did at least make me laugh from time to time. Pratchett never did that.

    jb says: Hi Tom. Ah, the ever-dutiful child . . .

  5. Jane says:

    Ian McEwan has to be near the top for me. And Julian Barnes who I haven’t read for years but whose new book I can’t put down right now. As for Terry Pratchett, here’s another of your children who could never get past the first two paragraphs without throwing the thing down in disgust. Well I only tried it the once:)

    jb says: Hi Jane. I’ve enjoyed Julian Barns but McEwan simply does not gell with me. His female characters always give me the feeling that I’m inhabiting the internal world of a male novelist trying to think and feel like a women and failing.
    The other thing, my children’s love affair with Terry Pratchett, I think it must be that the Pratchett-affiliated ones were louder than the others with more taste.
    I do realise I’m on a hiding to nothing here. Should know that by now, you can’t please all of the people all of the time . . .

  6. kathy Korbart says:

    Who is the greatest writer of the British isles I’m reasearching and need to know badly. I love to read but need to know first.

    jb says: Hi Kathy. It’s no good asking me. I change my mind every day. Today it’s Harold Pinter.

  7. Nicole says:

    There would be a tied race to the finish line between PD James, Colin Dexter, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Elizabeth Goudge, but they would all be too polite to individually make a grab for the title. I can picture them deciding to share it.