My First Book


This is not a children's book, as may be supposed from the title, but a collection of essays first published in The Idler magazine, in which over twenty well-known authors write with characteristic style and humour of their experiences in writing their first book... and getting it published.

Authors include Jerome K. Jerome, R. L. Stevenson, Bret Harte, Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, Conan Doyle and Mary Braddon. Full of charm, humour and pathos, this book is like a fireside chat with great writers of the past, as well as being a fascinating insight into the literary scene of the late 19th century.

The listener is warned that a few of the authors give away the ending of their book, especially when they were pressurised into changing it by the publisher.
Here are links to online texts of the works discussed, where available:
Ready-Money Mortiboy;

The Family Scapegrace;

The Wreck of the ‘Grosvenor’;

Physiological Aesthetics;


The Shadow of a Crime;

Departmental Ditties;

The Trail of the Serpent;

The House of Elmore;


Hudson Bay;

The Premier and the Painter;

The Western Avernus;

A Life’s Atonement;

A Romance of Two Worlds;

On the Stage and Off;

Cavalry Life;

Dead Man’s Rock;


Idyls and Legends of Inverburn;

Treasure Island

(Summary by Ruth Golding)

Genre(s): General Fiction, Memoirs, Essays

Language: English

Section Chapter Author Source Reader Time Language
Play 00 Introduction Jerome K. Jerome Etext Ruth Golding
00:17:09 en
Play 01 Ready-Money Mortiboy Walter Besant Etext Ruth Golding
00:20:59 en
Play 02 The Family Scapegrace James Payn Etext Ruth Golding
00:18:47 en
Play 03 The Wreck of the Grosvenor William Clark Russell Etext Ruth Golding
00:21:05 en
Play 04 Physiological Aesthetics and Philistia Grant Allen Etext Ruth Golding
00:20:41 en
Play 05 The Shadow of a Crime Hall Caine Etext Ruth Golding
00:36:04 en
Play 06 The Social Kaleidoscope George R. Sims Etext Ruth Golding
00:25:07 en
Play 07 Departmental Ditties Rudyard Kipling Etext Ruth Golding
00:11:02 en
Play 08 Juvenilia Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Etext Ruth Golding
00:18:39 en
Play 09 The Trail of the Serpent Mary Elizabeth Braddon Etext Ruth Golding
00:24:49 en
Play 10 The House of Elmore Frederick William Robinson Etext Ruth Golding
00:15:42 en
Play 11 Dawn H. Rider Haggard Etext Ruth Golding
00:30:11 en
Play 12 Hudson's Bay R. M. Ballantyne Etext Ruth Golding
00:17:58 en
Play 13 The Premier and the Painter Israel Zangwill Etext Ruth Golding
00:28:25 en
Play 14 The Western Avernus Morley Roberts Etext Patti Cunningham
00:16:29 en
Play 15 A Life's Atonement David Christie Murray Etext Ruth Golding
00:24:12 en
Play 16 A Romance of Two Worlds Marie Corelli Etext Ruth Golding
00:31:13 en
Play 17 On the Stage and Off Jerome K. Jerome Etext Ruth Golding
00:35:57 en
Play 18 Cavalry Life John Strange Winter Etext Ruth Golding
00:31:21 en
Play 19 Californian Verse Bret Harte Etext Ruth Golding
00:22:03 en
Play 20 Dead Man's Rock Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch Etext Patti Cunningham
00:22:12 en
Play 21 Undertones and Idyls and Legends of Inverburn Robert Buchanan Etext Ruth Golding
00:31:11 en
Play 22 Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson Etext Ruth Golding
00:27:45 en