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Dotti Irving






Dotti Irving
Penguin Books
July 26 1984

Dear Dotti,

It’s not every day you get a letter from me. It’s not every day I write a letter. In fact, I haven’t written a letter since I last proposed marriage to Iris Murdoch. (She never answered. I have since learnt that she forwards all mail from strangers to Beryl Bainbridge. That may explain the letter I once got from Beryl, saying: “Yes-name the date!”) But the fact is that the cheque I sent to British Telecom has not got through the post and they have temporarily cut off my line. It’s wonderfully restful. I may never pay a phone bill again.

Anyway, thanks for your letter, full of amazing statistics about the Franglais books having sold more copies than there are people with French O Levels in this country. Well done, Penguin! I wonder why Robson hasn’t given me any money for years? At first I thought that the way the sales figures slid down for each book reflected descending quality, but I realise now it reflects the amount of time they have been out. At least I hope it does …

The cover is not bad, really. I can’t see it selling more than 3 copies, but if Penguin will insist on publishing everything I write. Here is a letter for Liz Buchan, by the way.

Dear Liz,

I am sorry I did not come up with the goods, back and front, for Nature. This was because I was crossing the Kalahari Desert on a camel, making a TV film called “Terribly Alone in the Kalahari except for four cameramen, two sound men, back-up Land Rover and a mobile catering unit”, and there were no post offices nearby, also I had blurb-writer’s block. BUT you have done as good a job as I ever could, so this has been a good thrill and a challenge for you.

Yours, Miles

I realise it’s going to be tricky cutting it out and handing it over, so perhaps she could read it over your shoulder. I don’t in the least mind doing a few Nature interviews. You mustn’t be misled by my curt, foul phone manner into thinking I’m curt and foul.

You were looking incredibly glamorous the other day. As soon as I have managed to break off my engagement to Beryl Bainbridge, we ought to arrange lunch.