Philosophy and poetry

There’s a wealth of philosophical thought and poetry in A Man of Understanding, which books and authors, poets and thinkers have inspired you?

Some of my philosophical heroes are Aristotle, Kant and Hume, whose philosophical thoughts appear in A Man of Understanding. Like the heroine in my previous novel The Infinite Wisdom of Harriet Rose, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius inspired me. Dickens is a favourite author. I admire his way of combining social comment, moral reflection, character portrayal, and humour. Hermann Hesse is an author who inspires reflection in an interesting way (particularly The Glass Bead Game and Siddharta). A favourite novel has always been An Imaginary Life by the novelist and poet David Malouf. It’s an original and lyrical novel that imagines the Roman poet Ovid’s life in exile and his encounter with a wild boy brought up by wolves. I admire many poets, including Rupert Brooke, Robert Browning, and Christina Rossetti. As a child, I was entranced by Rudyard Kipling and Walter de la Mare. I enjoyed the poems of Catullus that I studied for Latin A level – I was given a book of his poems in Latin and English translation as a school prize. I admire the odes of Horace – I wrote my own translation of one in A Man of Understanding. I find many Psalms beautiful.