At the top of the post, see a manuscript page of War and Peace with the figures of a boy and a well-dressed woman drawn very faintly into the text.
In our long-lived, serial-career age, these lists say something about how we’re beginning to think of writing – as a young person’s game, perhaps with some sort of dimly imaginable career structure via which you might graduate to the best of 20 over 40, or 60, if there were such lists. This would be all well and good if a writing “career” had any kind of recognisable trajectory.
Smith is a devoted fan of the Brontës, those cloistered, brilliant siblings. Last year she did a benefit performance in Haworth, Britain, to raise money for the Brontë Parsonage Museum. “I really was introduced to the Brontës through my sister,” Smith told the BBC at the time, “and we’re very close. She’s one year younger than I. When I married, I moved quite a bit away, and we kept almost daily correspondence by reading all of Charlotte’s books.”