Britain in 1982 was a strange, sad old place. It was the year when the IRA stepped up its bombing campaign, the Falklands war got under way, and national unemployment reached a 50-year high of 14 per cent.

Like the proverbial curate's egg, James Joyce's Ulysses is good in parts. It's also sometimes long-winded and frankly nonsensical.    

Religion, like sex, has always been a thorny subject to write about, especially for novelists keen to preserve their literary integrity and make a decent living.

In the great canon of science fiction, aliens are anthropomorphised in some way or other - from the Alien and E.T. to Yoda and the "greys" of Roswell fame.


During the course of a long and fruitful writing career, Agatha Christie produced a remarkable canon of literature - according to her estate, the number of her books moved sits just behind the Bible and the works of William Shakespeare.

There is an accepted belief that English writer Thomas Hardy wrote most of his novels to fund his first true love: poetry. And while there could be some truth to that (he purportedly saw himself more as a poet than a novelist), it does provide a good indication as to the predominant style in which he wrote.

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