How to Be Great

In 2003, as the culmination of a London literary lecture series, the various contributors were asked to vote for a favorite among their number — the writer's writer, if you will. This secret ballot included such dissimilar authors as Germaine Greer, Doris Lessing, Carlos Fuentes, Helen Fielding and myself. The winner was Nick Hornby; his prize, a first edition of Charles Dickens' David Copperfield.

Both the accolade and the trophy were fitting: like Dickens, Hornby, 47, is an unashamedly popular English author who unites his country's readers, critics and fellow authors in open affection. And like Dickens he...

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