Novelist Alan Hollinghurst gives insightful talk at Christ’s Hospital school

Alan Hollinghurst with Christ's Hospital pupils
Alan Hollinghurst with Christ's Hospital pupils

Booker Prize winning author Alan Hollinghurst was ‘in conversation’ with Christ’s Hospital pupils and members of the public on February 9, as part of the school’s termly arts programme.

He spoke about his life and work, including his first novel, The Swimming-Pool Library; The Line of Beauty, adapted for television by the BBC; and his most recent tour de force, The Stranger’s Child.

The pupils were grateful for such an insightful talk.

Max Birkin, 16, said: “Mr Hollinghurst gave a candid and revealing insight into both his writing process and the characters of his novels.

“His ability to write descriptive but realist prose has made him a favourite of critics and readers alike. His latest novel, The Stranger’s Child, was chosen this year as the coursework text for the CH English A level pupils. His surprise that one of his books was being taught in a school is indicative of the social changes that have arisen since the publication of his first novel.

“He cited Henry James and E. M. Forster as his great influences, and explained that many of his characters are somewhat biographical. His love for architecture, for example, is well expressed through the protagonist of his first novel.

“Many of his novels have proved controversial, and the political undertones that run through much of his writing made for an interesting discussion. However, he resisted being classified as a ‘gay writer’, and praised the liberal mindset of today’s generation.”

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