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Victor Canning recommends ...

Twice Victor Canning's sister Jean asked him to recommend some books to read and twice he sent her a list. They may give some insight into the sources of his own style.

The first list was sent in the late 1930s.

Much later, in the 1970s, she asked for another list, since she was starting to write a novel herself and was looking for stylistic models.

In a newspaper interview of 1974 Canning names writers he admired: "the great storytellers, John Buchan, Hugh Walpole, Priestley, James Hilton, or that Cornish chap, what was his name, Howard Spring." He also names Fowles and Updike among recent writers. He dismissed Joyce and Proust as "vanity writing".

Clearly Canning read a great deal in a wide range of styles. But there are two rather unexpected omissions: no mention of Charles Dickens or H.G.Wells, though we know from his diary that he read and admired Wells in his teens. The diary also contains a very dismissive comment on D.H.Lawrence.