Published On: Sat, Aug 19th, 2017

Hunter Davies: My six best books – Just William, The Beatles lyrics and more


His latest memoir A Life In The Day, about his life with novelist Margaret Forster, is out now (Simon & Schuster, £16.99).

JUST WILLIAM by Richmal Crompton Macmillan, £6.99

I loved all these books as a child. I haven’t laughed or enjoyed a book as much since.

William’s life was so different from mine.

I lived in a council house in Carlisle and he lived in the soft south with maids yet I laughed at all his jokes.

A PICTORIAL GUIDE TO THE LAKELAND FELLS by Alfred Wainwright (out of print)

For 30 years we lived half the year in the Lake District.

These guides are little works of art and although I can’t go to the tops of the fells any more, it gives me pleasure to imagine all the views and admire his artwork.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by JD Salinger Penguin, £8.99

The book of my teenage life. It was funny, bitter and twisted and it inspired me to write novels because I thought you didn’t need a plot so long as you had a strong character and an amusing style.

THE BEATLES LYRICS by Hunter Davies (Out of print until November)

For this, I tracked down as many of the original lyrics as I could.

The copyright problems were horrendous but it’s an explanation of every Beatles song. Their tunes will be hummed as long as we have got breath.

On a desert island I would use this to sing along. 

ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL & THE MEN WHO MADE IT by Alfred Gibson and William Pickford (Out of print)

This is one of the oldest books about football. I paid 500 quid for my set of four volumes.

The illustrations are brilliant. At school, my ambition was to play for Scotland and I played football in local teams on Hampstead Heath until I was 50.

MY LIFE IN HOUSES by Margaret Forster Vintage, £9.99

By my late wife, about the houses she lived in.

It’s fascinating because, although I knew her for 60 years, I didn’t realise that, elliptically, it’s really about her cancer.

It brings back happy memories as well as sad ones.


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