Stars in their own eyes

19th September 1997 at 01:00
Even the famous were young once. Elaine Carlton talked to four big names about youthful ambition

Jilly Cooper, author: I always wanted to be a journalist. I used to see these male journalists crowding around famous people at airports, chasing people and going off to war. They always wore macs and black hats and I wanted to be one of them. My great, great, great grandfather had founded a newspaper, The Leeds Mercury, so it was in my blood.

When I left school I went to work for the local paper. I didn't go to university because I didn't think I was bright enough, but the truth is I didn't try very hard. Once on the local paper I dreamed of working on Fleet Street where the average wage was Pounds 22 a week in 1956.

I tried to get a job there but no one wanted me so I went into public relations, which was awful.

I started writing short stories when I was 28 and then I met Godfrey Smith, the editor of The Sunday Times colour supplement at a party. I talked to him about the difficulty of being a wife and working mother, bringing up the children and then making love all night. He said: "It's very funny. Write it." So I did.

After he read it, Harry Evans (then editor of The Sunday Times) asked me to write a column which I did for more than 13 years. I have now written 37 books and all I would say to today's young people is "Follow your heart."

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