They may exist only in the imagination, but fantasy dinner parties take almost as much planning as the real thing.

Careful consideration has to be given to the line-up.

To bring out the best in your guests, you need a balance of personalities, experiences and opinions.

Assuming that I’ve a table built for six (with me at the head, presiding over everything), here’s the writers I’d want for my literary feast.

#1 C.S. Lewis

lewis at desk


CS Lewis would be seated directly to my right, because we’d have a lot to talk about.

I’ve a lot in common with the author of the Narnia series. We’re both from the same area of Northern Ireland, we both love drinking tea and reading books, we both enjoy taking long walks and we both love the notion of talking animals.

Somewhere between the soup course and dessert, we’d become BFFs.

First question I’d ask:

“What was up with you and Jane Moore?”

(Lewis lived with Moore, who was 27 years older than him and the mother of an old army colleague, for several decades until she was hospitalised shortly before her death. Some of his biographers claim it was a romantic relationship, others more of a mother/son bond)

#2 Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath 01.jpg


I recently read Wintering by Kate Moses which uses collected diary materials and letters to tell the story of Plath’s final winter before her suicide at the age of 30.

It’s a dark read – Plath’s mental health deteriorates as her marriage crumbles – and yet I found myself warming to the poet.

Her letters are sharp, engaging and oddly optimistic considering her pervasive depression.

I’m not particularly a fan of her poetry, but I’d like to meet the women who battled through so much with grace and wit.

First question I’d ask: 

“Is it true what they say about Ted?”

#3 Samuel Clemens/ Mark Twain



I imagine Mark Twain got invited to a lot of dinner parties.

He seems like the ultimate guest – charming, witty, sociable.

Not only was he great with the one liners:

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter

Twain was also a good conversationalist, with plenty of life experience to drawn on. He toured the Mediterranean, Europe and the Middle East as well as doing plenty of exploring in the American West.

You can bet a guy like that has stories to tell.

First question I’d ask:

“How do you feel about making the banned books list?”

#4 Edith Wharton



Edith was a woman ahead of her time, and someone I’d be proud to have at my table.

Fiercely intelligent and determined, Edith shunned the standards of her day – not an easy thing for a woman born into American high society.

Women at the time weren’t encouraged to read or write, but Edith did both voraciously. She became the first women to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1921.

She loved to travel, spoke four languages and enjoyed a good ghost story.

Oh and she was also a frequent visitor to the French front line in World War I.

The woman’s my hero.

First question I’d ask:

“Does Newland ever see Elena again?”

(if this means nothing to you, read The Age of Innocence)

#5 T.S. Eliot



Nothing ruins a fantasy dinner party like having too many chattering novelists.

When sending out the invitations, I’d be sure to throw a poet into the mix.

And no-one can hold a candle to master of the modernist movement, T.S. Eliot (except perhaps W.B. Yeats who would also be welcome to pull up a chair).

Who could resist meeting the mind that came up with such beautiful, evocative prose.

Prose such as:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.


You are the music while the music lasts


I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

First question I’d ask:

“Have you seen Cats?”

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