Secker & Warburg has just published Small World (£8.95), the eagerly awaited new novel by David Lodge, prize-winning author of Changing Places and How Far Can You Co? John Haffenden interviewed him in his office at the University of Birmingham where he is Professor of Modern English Literature, and began by inviting him to describe his career and background:
I was born in Dulwich, south London, in 1935, and was brought up in a suburb called Brockley, a somewhat seedy, neglected bit of London. My father was a professional dance musician now semi-retired, an artistically gifted man from a poor background. He is English with a Jewish grandmother. My mother had an Irish father and a Belgian mother: she was a Catholic, and that was why I was brought up as a Catholic. My father is a non-denominational, vague Christian. He went into the Air Force as a musician and was away for most of the war. My mother and I lived in the country, in Cornwall and in Surrey, so I had that experience of being torn away from my home at about the age of four and a half, because of the war, and being separated from my father. It’s the experience I drew on in Out of the Shelter, which is, in some ways, the most autobiographical of my novels. After the war we came back to the same house in London, and I went to a Catholic grammar school in Blackheath.