Thursday, July 19, 2012

The literary treadmill

At the TLS, Geoffrey Wheatcroft has a great piece on Peter Clarke's new book about Winston Churchill's literary career (the tax details are especially fascinating!):
It was when installed in a government office that Churchill discovered the delights of dictation to a shorthand-typist, and thereafter all his work was dictated. This gave, as it happened, a kind of homogeneity to everything he produced “by tongue or pen”. His speeches were first dictated and then typed before being delivered in public, his books were dictated and set in galley proof to be endlessly amended at outlandish cost. And he also soon learned the value of enlisting the help of others: his first private secretary, at the Colonial Office, was (later Sir) Edward Marsh, who would follow Churchill from one ministry to another and then serve him with personal devotion, reading his proofs, ghostwriting his articles, and even compiling his tax returns.

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