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The chip of ice in every writer's heart


A published author by the age of 23
Frederic Raphael Writer
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George Greenfield went to Victor Gollancz with my manuscript, called Victor Gollancz Publishers, and it was read by Hilary Rubinstein who was then about to take over, although he never did, and who had worked... for whom Beetle had worked, and I think he was rather jealous of the fact that Beetle was with me. Anyway so they turned it down. We then went to Macmillan who bought it. And they were going to pay me I think £100 advance which was not bad, actually. So I was suddenly at the age of 23, I wasn't yet 24, that's right, I had a book accepted. That's not bad going, really. In fact, it was pretty amazing. But of course it wasn't a book which had any of the things in it which I wanted to become a writer in order to say, because it was just a frivolous little book about a pop singer and romance and all the rest of it, and it was a sort of send up of show biz, a very naive one, it was quite funny. And Jack Squire a famous figure in the 1930s particularly praised it for Macmillan and said, you know you must take this man on. He's got lots of funny books ahead of him. And my publisher at Macmillan was a man called Alan Maclean who was Donald Maclean's brother. Donald Maclean recently, not that recently, had departed to Moscow, and Alan who'd been in the Foreign Office, had to find another job. So Harold Macmillan found him, who was completely innocent, another job.

And I was about to be a published writer.

[Q] You'd done a hell of a lot, hadn't you, by the age of 23.

Yes. So my good fortune was that all the time that we were under contract with the Rank Organisation to write two screenplays, nobody called us, nobody asked us to do anything, we just got monthly cheques. It seemed a very, very good arrangement. At the end of the year, I had written most of another novel of course, called The Earlsdon Way, in fact I think I must have finished it because that's what I did all day apart from playing bridge in the afternoons while poor Beetle just sat in the dark in the Chelsea embankment.

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: Victor Gollancz

Duration: 2 minutes, 17 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2014

Date story went live: 10 September 2014