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Anne Tyler: If I could buy all of my first four novels and destroy them I would

The novelist has produced screen-adapted and award-winning novels throughout her career.

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Handout image of Anne Tyler, whose book A Spool of Blue Thread, is one of six that have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015.

Handout image of Anne Tyler, whose book A Spool of Blue Thread, is one of six that have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015.

Handout image of Anne Tyler, whose book A Spool of Blue Thread, is one of six that have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015.

Author Anne Tyler has revealed she is “embarrassed” by some of her early work and said she would like to destroy all the copies of her first four novels.

The 80-year-old has produced 23 novels during her lifetime, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Breathing Lessons and her 20th novel A Spool Of Blue Thread – which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize shortlist in 2015.

Her writing has also been adapted for the stage and screen, including the Oscar-nominated film of her 1985 novel The Accidental Tourist.

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The Duchess of Cornwall with Anne Tyler at the award ceremony for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2015 (Neil Hall/PA)

The Duchess of Cornwall with Anne Tyler at the award ceremony for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2015 (Neil Hall/PA)

The Duchess of Cornwall with Anne Tyler at the award ceremony for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2015 (Neil Hall/PA)

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Tyler revealed she has difficulty looking back on her first published works despite her later success.

Discussing her first novel, titled If Morning Ever Comes, which she published in 1964 at age 22, she said: “I’m embarrassed by it, as well as by the three that came after it.

“I had this theory that if you revised (a novel) it was wrong because then it wouldn’t be a very spontaneous novel.

“So if I could buy them all up, those first four novels and destroy them, I would.”

The following novels included 1965’s The Tin Can Tree, 1970’s A Slipping-Down Life and 1972’s The Clock Winder.

The writer confirmed that she now takes a different approach and revises her novels “endlessly again and again”.

“Not until I think it’s perfect, it’s until I think I’ll throw up if I have to read it again”, she added.

If I could buy them all up, those first four novels and destroy them, I would.Anne Tyler

Tyler relocated with her family to Baltimore, Maryland in the 1960s and has remained there, as well as it becoming the setting for her novels ever since.

The writer described the city as having “a lot of character”, saying: “Some of its spiky, gritty character but I wouldn’t mistake it for another place.”

She added that it is also a “very kind hearted city” noting that you would not hear the “angry traffic horns” in downtown Baltimore the way you would in New York.

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After selecting the track Baltimore by Nina Simone for one of her Desert Island Disc choices, she admitted that she had not anticipated spending more than 50 years of her life in the city, but said it “feels right” that she should end up there.

– Desert Island Discs airs on BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4 on Sunday at 11am.

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