I recently started reading a huge biography of Benjamin Disraeli, the nineteenth-century British Prime Minister. Although I already knew that he penned a few novels in his time, I hadn’t realised how big a part writing played in his early life and the extent of his output.
However, I soon discovered something I found especially interesting about his novels and that is the extent to which he included people, places and events from his own life in them. In fact, although he made modest efforts to disguise this, there is so much from his personal life in these books that they strike me as being a pretty good place to start if you want to get to know more about the man.
Sometimes those things from real life that he brings into his stories are of little consequence, but on other occasions they’re really quite extraordinary. For example, his lengthy affair with the married Lady Henrietta Sykes formed the basis for his novel Henrietta Temple, much of which was written whilst the affair was ongoing.
This kind of thing did sometimes get Disraeli into trouble and lost him more than one or two friends along the way. But, being the quiet and introverted person that I am, I find it incredible that any author would want to share so brazenly so much from their personal life, especially the naughty stuff. Mind you, he was way out there on the extrovert end of the scale, so perhaps it didn’t bother him so much.
I have had many people ask me over the years if there are parts of me in any of my characters. For some reason, it’s David Good that seems to elicit this question most often. I always scratch my head at that one because I can’t see anyway at all that we could be considered to be alike. And, just to be clear there, no, David Good isn’t me! For one thing, he’s often naughty and I’m boringly well-behaved.
Perhaps if I was more of an extrovert and had lived a more colourful life I might be tempted to put more of me into my stories. But, as things stand, if you were ever tempted to go looking for me in any of my books then you’d come up empty-handed. The very idea makes me feel all peculiar.
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