The BBC is increasingly finding ways to exploit and make more freely available its vast collection of visual and aural content. The latest example is the captivating online resource In Their Own Words: British Novelists Collection.
The freely accessible archive contains complete radio interviews with many of the 20th Century’s most read authors, revealing something of the imaginations and personalities which lie behind some of the greatest modern novels.
The broadcasts span 1937 (Virginia Woolf) to 2009 (Zadie Smith) and vary in length from five minutes up to an hour.
Also of value are the links to a number of other valuable online resources chosen to accompany each programme, including
- Modern radio interviews from the programmes Book Club and Open Book, the latter being strikingly international in scope, with authors from the Americas, Africa and Asia as well as the UK
- An extensive database of contemporary UK writers provided by the British Council, which includes a biography, bibliography and short critical essay
- The history and current news of the Man Booker prize, the most prestigious literary award in Britain. (The BBC In Their Own Words collection also includes a percipient interview from 1995 with the 2009 winner Hilary Mantel, which calls her "the novelist of her generation who will last.")
- A graphic created by the UK’s key distance learning institution, the Open University, to illustrate connections between authors such as genre, background and relationship.