The Inventory: Jeffrey Archer

Jeffrey Archer, 73, was deputy chairman of the Conservative party from 1985 to 1986 and was made a life peer in 1992. In 2001, he was jailed for perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and served two years. His books, including his prison diaries, have sold millions of copies around the world.

What was your earliest ambition?

To captain the England cricket team and score a century at Lord’s. I failed.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

Wellington School in Somerset, a minor public school, then on to Oxford. I could have worked harder but I don’t suppose there are many boys who couldn’t say that.

Who was your mentor?

Alan Quilter. He was my English master at school and gave me my love of Shakespeare and literature.

How physically fit are you?

I go to the gym three times a week. I have a personal trainer. I can do an eight-minute mile and I’m 73 years old. I’d give myself seven out of 10.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

You’ve got the wrong word. It should be energy or talent. You can have all the talent in the world but without energy you won’t get anywhere. Energy and talent, you’re a king. Energy and no talent, you’re a prince. Talent and no energy – you’re a pauper.

How politically committed are you?

I was very committed when I served Margaret Thatcher and John Major. I’m still committed in that I take a great interest. But I’m not involved any more. My life is writing books and doing charity auctions.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?


Do you have more than one home?

Three. Our main home in Cambridge, a flat in London which I treat as an office, and a home in Majorca where I write my books.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

No choice. If you’re married to Dame Mary Archer, you get it over breakfast every morning.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

Rembrandt’s “Man in a Golden Helmet”. I’d be delighted if the FT could arrange this.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

Oil paintings. I’ve put an average collection together by buying all my life. Mary’s got me to stop now.

In what place are you happiest?

Somerset cricket ground.

Happiest place: Somerset cricket ground, Taunton

What ambitions do you still have?

The world record for the 100m by a man of 100 is 30.86 seconds and is held by a South African. I intend to break it. I have been training hard.

What drives you on?

To be read by more and more people. I’m very focused. I’m frightened of stopping or slowing down; I made the decision at 70 to write the five books of The Clifton Chronicles to drive me from 70 to 75.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

Probably having run for my country. I wasn’t quite good enough – but I did run for Britain.

Your greatest disappointment?

Not having any daughters. I have a friend who has eight and I’m immensely envious. I love my sons but I wish I had daughters as well.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?

“Should have worked harder when I was younger.”

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

Start again! Start again!

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

Yes, I do.

Do you believe in an afterlife?


If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?


‘Best Kept Secret’, the third novel in Jeffrey Archer’s ‘Clifton Chronicles’, is published by Macmillan (£20 hardback, £12.99 ebook)

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