5 x 7 3/4
Keith Waterhouse is remembered today for his newspaper columns, his play Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, and his novel Billy Liar, published in 1959 when the author was thirty. But discovered in his archives when the British Library acquired them in 2012, was a full-length manuscript that had never been published, a humorous autobiography entitled How to Live to Be 22.
Written during the early years of his career, as a reporter for the Yorkshire Evening Post, the book contains the dreams, doubts, desires, and ambitions of a young man in postwar Leeds trying to make a career of writing. A torrent of ideas, sometimes bordering on a rant but always humorous and self-deprecating, How to Live to Be 22 contains many of the themes that Waterhouse would later develop in Billy Liar: fantasies of being the leader of imaginary worlds, and even Prime Minister; early experiences with women; and an obsession with grammar. With great confidence and prescience Waterhouse declares in the work that he will have “always one book or play on the glow like people who always have the kettle on the gas,” and that the neon lights that lit his name up in the clouds will be “bigger and brighter than before.”
How to Live to Be 22 provides fascinating insights into Waterhouse’s creative process and will be a must-read for the gifted writer’s legion of fans.