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Peter Ackroyd quotes

His head was boiled, impaled upon a pole and raised above London Bridge. So ended the life of Thomas More, one of the few Londoners upon whom sainthood has been conferred and the first English layman to be beatified as a martyr.

Oh, I just tend to believe in things when I'm writing them. For instance, when I was writing 'Doctor Dee,' I believed in magic. And when I wrote 'Hawksmoor' I believed in psychic geography. But as soon as I type the last full stop, I'm back to being a complete blank again.

I have always believed that the material world is governed by nonmaterial sources, so that in that sense 'English Music' is an exercise in the spiritual as well as the material. I have always been attracted to the Gothic and spiritual imagination, and I've always been interested in visionaries.

Familial love can find an echo in our own hearts just as it did in that of Charles Dickens.

I detest self-regard. If my work has taught me anything, it is that self-aggrandisement is completely unhistorical.

I strike up conversations all the time and it is very interesting, finding out about things I know nothing about.

If I did only one thing at a time I'd think I was wasting my time. If, for example, I only wrote novels I would feel like a charlatan and a fraud.

London has always provided the landscape for my imagination. It becomes a character - a living being - within each of my books.

People are much more interesting than people realise.

To watch King Lear is to approach the recognition that there is indeed no meaning in life, and that there are limits to human understanding.

All cities are impressive in their way, because they represent the aspiration of men to lead a common life; those people who wish to live agreeable lives, and in constant intercourse with one another, will build a city as beautiful as Paris.

I don't find myself interesting as a person and the details I find boring, quite frankly. You could sum it up in a few words or sentences really: came from nothing. Self-educated. Luck. Energy. Curiosity. Ambition. That's it. Nothing at all can illuminate the work as far as I can tell.

I love soap operas - the stories, the plots! And I love the game shows and the courtroom dramas and the detectives - Jessica Fletcher, 'Columbo,' 'Perry Mason,' 'L.A. Law.' Any sense of guilt appeals to me in a television program - a sense of guilt, or a sense of making a lot of money.

I wanted to be a poet when I was 20; I had no interest in fiction or biography and precious little interest in history, but those three elements in my life have become the most important.

In 'The Plato Papers' I wanted to get another perspective on the present moment by extrapolating into the distant future. So in that sense, there's a definite similarity of purpose between a book set in the future and a book set in the past.

It may seem unfashionable to say so, but historians should seize the imagination as well as the intellect. History is, in a sense, a story, a narrative of adventure and of vision, of character and of incident. It is also a portrait of the great general drama of the human spirit.

None of my books has been ever in my head; after they're finished, they go. It's like being a sort of medium; you just grab it when it's there then just release it when it's time to go. There's a lot of instinct, not planning.

To be a writer was always my greatest aim. I remember writing a play about Guy Fawkes when I was 10. I suppose it's significant, at least to me, that my first work should be about a historical figure.

Why should a novelist not also be a historian? To force unnatural divisions within the English language is to work against its capacious and accommodating nature. To expect a writer to produce only novels, or only histories, is equivalent to demanding from a composer that he or she write only string quartets or piano sonatas.

I don't know if I have a voice of my own. I don't see me being an important person with something to say. I haven't. I've got nothing to say. My opinion is of no consequence or value.