I like to think we writers are generous people. As you know, the proceeds from sales of Tangerine Tango, the cute book with contributions from yours truly, are going to support research into Huntington’s Disease. And I’ve known for a while that there’s a rock group composed of American writers that raises money ($2 million) for the American Library Association Scholarship program and other charities. Although the group disbanded recently, due to the death of their founder, the Rock Bottom Remainders included such writing luminaries as Dave Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan and Scott Turow.
In England, on the other hand, fund-raising by authors is more sedate. Much more sedate.
About a hundred years ago,(stay with me here) there was an English cricket team composed of people you may even have heard of, like Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), P.G. Wodehouse (Right Ho, Jeeves) and J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan). Earlier this year Leicester author Nicholas Hogg (The Hummingbird and the Bear) teamed up with writer and literary agent, Charlie Campbell (Scapegoat), to resurrect The Authors Cricket Club. Among the writers they recruited were Alex Preston, author of This Bleeding City and The Revelations, Tom Holland, author of Rubicon and Persian Fire, The Battle of Britain-author James Holland, and Matthew Parker, who wrote The Sugar Barons. Sebastian Faulks (Birdsong), and First Story founder William Fiennes (The Snow Geese) also play for the team.
And to make the whole thing more photogenic, they’ve also recruited Dan Stevens, star of Downton Abbey, who is also one of the judges of the Man Booker prize this year. (He has a degree in English Literature from Cambridge, so he’s not just a pretty face. Although he is a pretty face.)
They’re helping to fund First Story, which supports and inspires creativity, literacy and talent in UK schools, and Chance to Shine, the campaign that sets out to bring competitive cricket – and its educational benefits – back to at least a third of the country’s state schools initially over a 10 year period.
So far they’ve played the Actors’ cricket team, the House of Lords and House of Commons Cricket team, and the Publishers’ cricket team.
And now they’re writing a book about it. Each team member will contribute a chapter about a particular fixture, with author Kamila Shamsie (Burnt Shadows) set to write about the team’s game against Shepperton Ladies and William Fiennes to write about the match at the picturesque Valley of the Rocks pitch in Devon. Hogg will write about the club where he grew up playing, with the season building to the fixture against the Actors team at Lord’s, 100 years since the Authors last played.
It’s almost enough to keep you awake during a cricket game. Almost.