My previous post on writers I’d love to have coffee with was very popular. My blogger friend Ryan stole my idea and then he also did a time travel edition – which I’m now stealing from him. So here are 10 writers I’d want to meet, if someone invented a time machine. Since most of my favourite writers are actually from the past, this was a difficult choice to make…
Charlotte Brontë. I’d travel to Haworth Parsonage (which I’ve visited before, but obviously not in 1847) and we’d go for a walk on the windswept moor while discussing the recent publication of Jane Eyre. Although this time was a relatively happy moment in Charlotte’s life, I would feel sad knowing what the future had in store for herself and her siblings.
H G Wells. The master of science fiction was noted for predicting the future. I love musing upon the future so I think we’d click. We’d meet at the turn of the 20th century and I’d tell him that The Time Machine is one of my favourite books. However, I wouldn’t tell him what a mess the BBC made of The War of the Worlds.
Stella Gibbons. We’d meet in the late 1940s for a cup of tea and a bun in a cheap and cheerful café, like so many of her female characters do. I too have a sharp sense of humour so I think we’d have some laughs together. I’d tell her how much I like her post-Cold Comfort Farm novels and that after their reissues, many readers are delighted to discover them.
Virginia Woolf. I’d be intimidated by the prospect of meeting one of the greatest modern writers but I think she’d be fascinating to talk to. We’d have a smart lunch somewhere in London in the 1920s. I probably wouldn’t admit to her that I’ve touched (and, er, sniffed) a leather travel bag which belonged to her and which now sits in the Penguin Random House archive.
Mary Shelley. A super-intelligent and fascinating writer, Shelley would be an amazing person to meet, in between her writing, romantic journeys and tragic life events. I think it would be best to meet in Italy, where she spent a lot of her time. We could have proper Italian coffee and discuss the now legendary circumstances in which she wrote Frankenstein.
Jane Austen. It would be fantastic to see what Jane was really like, both in appearance and behaviour. We’d have a civilised tea at Chawton, Hampshire and talk about books. I’d try not to make some grave error in manners. It would be tempting to tell her how famous her name will become and also that what most people remember about Pride and Prejudice is Mr Darcy’s wet shirt scene.
Harper Lee. A very private person with a reputation as a recluse, merely because she didn’t grant interviews, Harper Lee might be a little reserved about meeting up. If we did, however, we would go to an anonymous New York coffee shop in 1961, the year that To Kill A Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize. I’d be tempted to suggest never to publish Go Set A Watchman…
George Orwell. Meeting Eric Arthur Blair would be fascinating, I’m sure. I think we’d have strong coffee someplace full of cigarette smoke. Or perhaps we would have a pint in a poverty-stricken northern town while he researches his book The Road to Wigan Pier. While I really admire Nineteen Eighty-Four, I would be too sad to meet him during the writing of it, as he was very ill.
H P Lovecraft. He has a reputation as weird and lonely with a far-out imagination, so I think we’d get on well. We’d meet in 1930s New England in some sinister old town haunted by eldritch beings older than the universe. Knowing he was to have a relatively short life dominated by poverty and tragedy, I’d also want to tell him how influential his work will be and maybe give him a hug.
Thomas Hardy. Dorset in the 1880s would be the obvious location to meet the author of favourite classics such as Tess of the D’Urbervilles and The Mayor of Casterbridge. We would have afternoon tea at Max Gate, the house he designed. I feel that he would be easier to get on with than some other Victorian writers as he seems unconventional and sympathetic.
Which writers from the past would you like to meet? Do you wish someone would hurry up and invent time travel?