1939 was my first story, I was fifteen. Naturally, of course it was the most extra ordinary one because nothing I have published since has meant so much to me, seeing this story of mine in print. I don’t remember what the story was, but there you are. It is amazing that I don’t remember, I’ll have to go look it up.
My education was really through books, through the fortune of having a mother that read to me as a child, and she made me a member of the children’s library in town, a little mining town, near where I lived. That was wonderful. And she was a friend of the lady librarian. When I was ten or eleven I was reading the stories of D.H. Lawrence, not Lady Chatterley, that was not in the library.
I went to school until I was eleven, and then she (mother) took me out on some pretext that I am not prepared to go into. And then I had a few private lessons, but then as I say, I am self educated. I educated myself through reading. And when young people say to me, well how do you become a writer, and they want to go to creative writing school, I am totally against creative writing schools. I think these things are good for journalists because you can learn how to be a journalist, there are pre-sets and rules. But though whole thing about being a poet or novelist, you can’t have any rules. You simply have to use your own perceptions, your own way of using the word. By reading…you don’t learn how to emulate or copy other writers. You learn the possibilities of the word. And you begin to see, what can I do with the word.
I get very bored with people who depend on a crummy childhood. Many of us have had a crummy childhood. And it just depends how you have moved on from there. And see that there is more to life and you are just going to go out there and become part of it.
Transcript from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p022vh9v