Jonathan Rose, William R. Kenan Professor of History
1. What’s the most important book you’ve read this year?
Simon Szreter and Kate Fisher, Sex Before the Sexual Revolution: Intimate Life in England 1918–1963. It’s amazing—and touching—to learn what our grandparents got away with.
2. Do your reading habits change during the summer?
Not all that much, except that I read more.
3. What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
Loads of plays—which perhaps isn’t all that surprising, given that I had a mercifully brief career in the theatre. Those who can’t act, teach.
4. Do you still read to your daughters?
My seventeen-year-old would consider that hopelessly uncool, but I insist that my thirteen-year-old read something to me every night before bed.
5. What is your next book about?
The Literary Churchill deals with Winston’s reading and his very successful and lucrative career as an author. It’s the only aspect of his life that hasn’t been studied much, and it may be the most important.
6. When will it be published?
7. What’s the best thing about writing a book?
Of course, finishing it. Also, receiving the first copy off the press, which is something like the birth of a child. And laughing at the reviews.
8. Have e-books become important to you?
9. Do you use any of the e-readers?
Are you kidding? I don’t even own a cell phone. My wife calls me a “lovable Luddite.”
10. What book has had the greatest impact on you?
The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters, by John Gross, which I read in high school. It was a survey of Victorian literary critics and scholars,so it may seem odd that it made such an impression, but I was entranced by the notion that one could make a career writing about books.
11. What else should we know about your habits with books?
I never write in them. I should, but I don’t.
12. If you could require the Drew faculty and staff to read one book, what would it be?
Changing Places, by David Lodge.It’s a very clever academic novel, and it will help them laugh at themselves.
13. If you could require Drew students to read one book, what would it be?
Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell. In fact I often assign it in my classes. It’s about an idealistic revolution that goes sour, so it’s always relevant, especially today.
14. Where is your favorite place to work in the Drew Library?
It doesn’t matter. The great thing about the Drew Library is that every part of it is a good place to work.
15. If you could spend a month in any library in the world, what would it be?
The British Library, partly because it’s a wonderful work space, and partly because I could go to the London theatre in the evenings.
16. If you were hosting a dinner party and could invite three authors, whom would you choose?
Charlotte Bronte, Henry David Thoreau, and George Bernard Shaw. No, wait, scratch them off the list—they’re all vegetarians.