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Star-crossed writers?

War Cry comments on celebrity authors

We need to guard against giving the impression that stardom is the pinnacle of a person’s achievement

AS the page is turned on another World Book Day on Thursday (1 March), The War Cry speaks to eight-year-old Josephine Thompson, who will be going to school dressed as Gangsta Granny, a character from a book of the same name by TV star David Walliams.

What Josephine and other schoolchildren probably aren’t aware of, though, is the recent controversy surrounding David Walliams and other celebrity authors.

Established authors have criticised the promotion of what they regard as too many children’s books written by famous individuals such as Walliams, Julian Clary, Nadiya Hussain and Clare Balding.

In an article on The Guardian’s website Tamsin Rosewell of independent shop Kenilworth Books comments: ‘The impression that books with a celebrity name attached to them have been chosen above all others sends a very damaging message: to be a successful writer you need to be famous.’ In response, World Book Day director Kirsten Grant said she hoped celebrity writers would be a ‘catalyst’ for non-readers to pick up a book.

This latest chapter in the story of World Book Day shows the power and influence of celebrity. The quandary is whether fame should be used to increase book sales at the expense of not-so-well-known authors.

Whatever the answer, it is no wonder that reality TV programmes are awash with willing applicants hoping to make a name for themselves and join the ranks of the rich and famous.

But, as our centre-pages interview with former model Patience Bradley demonstrates, life that revolves round celebrity is not all it’s cracked up to be. There is a darker side to life in the limelight, and fame is not necessarily the doorway to a better life.

We need to guard against giving the impression that stardom is the pinnacle of a person’s achievement. It is possible to live a fulfilling and worthwhile life without having the paparazzi follow your every move. Everyone should be encouraged to enjoy their life, however humble and simple it may seem to them.

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