Write Cut Rewrite: The Cutting Room Floor of Modern Literature

SKU: BODS-102436

'Plenty of fun here, with well-illustrated examples from John le Carré, Mary Shelley, Kenneth Grahame (awful handwriting), Franz Kakfa and Ludwig Wittgenstein among may others.' - Philip Hensher - The Spectator

Imagine looking over the shoulder of your favourite author and witnessing the moment they begin writing the opening chapter of their best-loved novel. What you might see is that the author has to write, cut and rewrite their words, often many times, in order to find the right form. Unearthing what has been jettisoned, moved or edited can give us valuable insights into the creative process.

Editorial decisions are documented in an extraordinary number of literary manuscripts, notebooks and letters preserved in libraries and archives. What would Frankenstein have looked like if Mary and Percy Shelley had not collaborated on the draft? Would we view The Wind in the Willows differently if its title had remained ‘The Mole & the Water Rat’? This highly illustrated book invites you to explore these roads-not-taken and discover ideas which did not make it into renowned novels, poems and plays.

With insights into the drafting techniques of writers as varied as Jane Austen, Christina Rossetti, Raymond Chandler, Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, John le Carré, Alan Bennett, Barbara Pym, Philip Pullman and Alice Oswald, this is a fascinating unveiling of the mysteries of writing, cutting, rewriting and publishing exceptional creative works.


Dirk Van Hulle is Professor of Bibliography and Modern Book History at the University of Oxford. 


Mark Nixon is is Professor of Modern Literature and Beckett Studies at the University of Reading.

    • Hardback
    • 200 pages, 259 x 237 mm
    • 9781851246182
    • Publication February 2024

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