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Late Returns: Manchester Writing School’s Nicholas Royle appears on BBC Radio 4

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By Jacqueline Grima

Manchester Writing School Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing Nick Royle will be airing some of his work on BBC Radio 4 this week. Late Returns is a half hour programme that takes a humorous look at the issue of unreturned library books. A dedicated bibliophile, Nick has always been a strong supporter of his local libraries and has borrowed books in numerous quantities since he was very young, with only some of them ever making their way back to their original home. Now, after borrowing some books thirty years ago, Nick feels that it’s perhaps time to do the right thing and return them, hoping to avoid arrest in the process.

Nick describes the programme as a love letter to libraries and to the books we can’t bring ourselves to return. He said, “I realised I had a few unreturned library books, from school, from university and from when I lived for a year in Paris. Finally it was time, more than thirty years on, to return them. I thought I’d get away with it at my old school, but I was less confident about going back to uni, and, as for Paris, I really didn’t know what to expect.”

During the programme, Nick will also consider his general relationship with books and libraries, and will discuss with other writers, such as Vahni Capildeo and Polar Bear, the books that they have loved and have been reluctant to return. He will also talk to writers who never fail to take borrowed books back, such as AL Kennedy, and meet a journalist who was one of the last to borrow a novel that Nick himself subsequently took on extended leave.

The producer of the programme is children’s picture book writer and arts festival creator Geoff Bird, who also produced a programme for Radio 4 with Manchester Met poet Michael Symmons Roberts last year. Talking about Nick’s reminiscing in the reading room at Manchester Central Library, Radio Times recently described Late Returns as featuring “some of the best whispering you’ll ever hear on radio.”

Late Returns will be aired at 11.30am on Thursday 9 February. For more information, visit the BBC Radio 4 website.

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Jacqueline Grima

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