a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Schooldays, school plays and the Blitz


Importance of modesty
Frederic Raphael Writer
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

[Q] Were you aware at that time that you were unusually bright?

I don't think I've ever thought I was unusually bright. I just thought I was brighter than other people, which isn't quite as conceited as it sounds. What I mean is, I noticed when I was better than other people, but I never actually thought that I was very, very good at anything and even now I'm somewhat surprised even when I read a piece of old prose or something of mine and I think... when I think, oh, that's quite good actually. I have a high opinion of myself in company – sometimes, but not unduly elevated. In fact, I'm inclined to think that I have been foolishly modest. There's something quite comic about my saying that, and I'm not unaware of it but the truth is, I've noticed that people who have become very famous as writers or other sorts of persons never ever make the mistake of making any ironic or self-deprecatory remark about themselves. On the whole, people of discovered genius are usually very keen to leave it prominently displayed for discovery. I never quite managed to be conceited enough for that and I think that the Jewish thing, which haunts... haunted me all my life ever since I got to England, has something to do with that. My father was very much against anyone who was pushy or flashy or showy even though he had been a world champion dancer. He never spoke of it. In fact, as I think I wrote somewhere that you haven't... people don't know that modesty was his main conceit or his only conceit, and actually that is very British. I notice that people who win medals in the war never talk about winning medals in the war; people who've won foolish awards talk about their awards a great deal.

Born in America in 1931, Frederic Raphael is a writer who moved to England as a boy. He was educated at Charterhouse School and was a Major Scholar in Classics at St John's College, Cambridge. His articles and book reviews appear in a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times and The Sunday Times. He has published more than twenty novels, the best-known being the semi-autobiographical The Glittering Prizes (1976). In 1965 Raphael won an Oscar for the screenplay for the movie Darling, and two years later received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for Two for the Road. In 1999, he published Eyes Wide Open, a memoir of his collaboration with the director Stanley Kubrick on the screenplay of Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick's final movie. Raphael lives in France and England and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1964.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: conceit, modesty, genius, awards

Duration: 2 minutes, 5 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2014

Date story went live: 13 August 2014