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5 things you didn't know about… Will Self


1st Jan 2015 Meet the Author

5 things you didn't know about… Will Self

Author, journalist and political commentator Will Self is one of the liveliest and most interesting thinkers and writers in the UK today - as well as arguably its most controversial. He' has been described as schizoid and having a borderline personality disorder, however the award-nominated author is also considered one of the most droll and ambitious writers at work today in the English language.

He started taking drugs at 12

In the 90s, Self raised a lot of eyebrows when he confessed to snorting heroin on John Major's aeroplane when he accompanied the then-prime minister on a pre-election tour of the UK. The columnist subsequently lost his job at the Observer newspaper, although he complained about the hypocrisy of a paper hiring him as a writer who took drugs then sacking him for doing so. Offered drug rehabilitation treatment at the time by the newspaper's editor, Self refused to participate.

Will Self's drug use goes back a long way to a rather troubled youth that included self-harm. He later said that he started smoking marijuana at aged 12, and later progressed to amphetamines, cocaine, LSD and heroin. Eventually he entered a rehabilitation centre in the mid-80s to end his heroin addiction. These days, Self claims to be free of illegal drugs, although he has said "I admire them from afar" and that he thinks the heavier hallucinogens are "amazing". 

He got a third-class degree

Although educated at some of the best schools in London, when Self went to Oxford to study PPE, he didn't perform well and got the lowest possible class of degree. The writer claimed only to have attended two lectures, and graduated with a third-class degree. Sadly, he experienced mental health concerns during this time and spent this part of his life as an outpatient at a psychiatric hospital. 

He worked as a road sweeper, comedian and cartoonist

Post graduation, 6' 5" tall Self worked as a road sweeper for a period for the GLC (Greater London Council), and created some cartoons for political publication the New Statesman. He has moved jobs a lot over his life, with stints on many of the broadsheets, including the Times, Evening Standard, Observer and Independent on Sunday, as well as the New York Times. In his regular New Statesman columns, he writes about group behaviour and also reviews restaurants.

He's a keen walker

Even as a heroin addict, Self claimed he kept fit. He now regularly writes about the walks he has taken, such as the 26 mile hike from his South London home to Heathrow airport. He also walked 20 miles from the airport when visiting New York. Recently, the author took part in a walking tour of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland.

His middle name is Woodward

Not many people know that… and not many people are called that these days! Married twice and with four children, the eccentric author also collects typewriters.

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