An informative and insightful survey of writers who have taught English as part of their careers, and the role that this experience has played in the development of their writing.
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Many writers, especially those of fiction, have taught English in some capacity, whether tutoring a child in a family, teaching in a school, lecturing in a University or training teachers of English. Bob Jordan examines the personal and literary impact teaching English abroad has had on 20th Century British writers.
Teaching English overseas not only provides an income but also introduces other cultures and ways of life, and is an opportunity to meet a variety of people. The wealth of life experience such an opportunity affords is often reflected in a writer's novels, poetry, travelogues, memoirs etc. Paul Theroux, the renowned travel writer, drew from his experiences of lecturing at the University of Singapore in later life when he wrote The Great Railway Bazaar.
Writers and their Other Work is divided into two parts. The first half covers a range of 20th Century writers and the second half focuses on British Council writers. All in all, Jordan recounts the experiences of some 187 writers in 23 different countries, including Greece, Egypt and Japan. Their experiences are sometimes excellent primary insights into politics, history and society, for example Terence Tiller's poetry in Egypt during the Second World War.
George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, T.S. Eliot, J.K. Rowling and John Fowles are but a few of the well-known writers whose teaching experiences abroad are evoked later on in life as writing their careers progress. Others continue to combine writing with another career, often lecturing or working for the British Council. C. John Morris, for example, mixed his writing with Everest exhibitions, lecturing at Tokyo University and working for the BBC.
Writers and their Other Work will naturally appeal to anyone who teaches or has taught English abroad, whether through the British Council or not. This book is of interest to those studying English literature, as well as those with an interest in the make-up of a writer, whether fiction or non-fiction. Not only is there an obvious link between writing and teaching abroad, but similar patterns soon develop. 72% of all the writers have a University degree, of which nearly three quarters were Oxbridge educated. Bob Jordan's work is the perfect accompaniment to any literature lover's library.
Bob Jordan is a Cambridge graduate, and a former British Council Officer who has worked in Nepal.
an informative and entertaining volume The Eagle
Jordan's widely researched book tells us who these people are, where they worked, and what they wrote. We will learn something from this book and will certainly want to track down selected writers included in the book in order to read further. New Horizons, newsletter of the British Council Association