Q&A with Charles Moore on his longlisted biography of Margaret Thatcher
How does it feel to reach the longlist for the Samuel Johnson Prize?
It is an honour to be considered for the prize. Many years ago, I was involved in its setting up, and I believe it has fulfilled its promise to be the best prize in the field of non-fiction.
What research did you do for writing your book?
I did ten years of research, interviewing (for the first volume) 315 people, consulting, with full access, Lady Thatcher's personal archives and the Government's prime ministerial files, and the libraries of all the US Presidents of Mrs Thatcher's time as leader and Prime Minister, as well as other manuscript and contemporary sources too numerous to mention.
How do you feel about the status/ popularity of non-fiction books in general?
The status of non-fiction books stands high relative to that of fiction. I do not welcome the diminished reputation of fiction, but I do welcome the strong interest in history and biography. This is particularly strong in Britain, where people are fascinated by the links between individual human character and wider events.
What is your favourite non-fiction book and why?
I have no single favourite, but James Boswell's Life of Johnson remains the most interesting example of biography as a way of capturing a character and an age in the English language.
What are you working on next?
Volume Two of the above!
Charles Moore is the author of Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography (Allen Lane)