Mrs Thatcher And The Writers

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20150618

At the height of her Premiership Margaret Thatcher attended a series of small, discrete dinners with leading writers of the period including Philip Larkin, Anthony Powell, Max Egremont and V.S Naipaul. DJ Taylor hears from some of those who took tea with Mrs T and asks why writers of the right and left were, and still are, mesmerised by her. Revealing letters and diaries give a sense of the dinners as thy unfolded and three of Britain's leading novelists, Hilary Mantel, Alan Hollinghurst and Ian McEwan - all winners of the Booker Prize - have since written novels or short stories that include a fictionalised Margaret Thatcher. In Hilary Mantel's case twice. So why does the former Prime Minister continue to fascinate, and will any writer take on the challenge of putting her centre stage, instead, as she has been until now, on the periphery?

Producer: Nicola Swords

Contributors: Hilary Mantel, Alan Holinghurst, Ian McEwan, Charles Moore, Max Egremont and Bella Thomas.