Where new writing finds its voice
The List

List No 1

Felicity Cloake

Does your job wilfully ignore your true talents and boundless creativity? Ride roughshod over your childhood dreams? Is it, in fact, rubbish? Cheer up, you’re in good company…

‘Of all the damnable waste of
human life that ever was invented,
clerking is the worst’

– George Bernard Shaw


Douglas Adams: chicken-shed cleaner

Simon Armitage: shelf stacker

Iain Banks: dustman

Bill Bryson: dropped out of university to work in a mental asylum

Raymond Carver: door-to-door dictionary salesman

Miguel de Cervantes: tax collector

Daniel Defoe: set up an ill-fated business breeding civet cats

Charles Dickens: worked in a shoe blacking factory

James Ellroy: golf caddy

Michel Houellebecq: debugged computers in the French parliament

Ted Hughes: zoo attendant

Kazuo Ishiguro: grouse beater for the Queen Mother at Balmoral

James Joyce: bank clerk

John Keats: dresser of wounds

AL Kennedy: double glazing telesales irritant

David Mitchell: once turned down for a job in McDonalds

Terry Pratchett: press officer for the electricity board

Philip Pullman: worked in Moss Bross

Ian Rankin: swineherd

JD Salinger: worked as an apprentice at a slaughterhouse

John Steinbeck: bricklayer

Hunter S Thompson: wrote for a Puerto Rican bowling magazine

Fay Weldon: wrote the problem page for the Daily Mirror

Irvine Welsh: TV repairman

Jeanette Winterson: make-up artist in a funeral parlour