No arched nostrils here

In accusing me of pushing anti-northern stereotypes in my review of a biography of Alan Bennett, Edward Pearce (Letters, 24 September) resorts to some misdirected stereotyping himself. My review, he writes, exemplifies "the nostril-arching, Cambridge-mannered put-down of, well, let's face it, northern oiks . . . in a manner recalling Virginia Woolf putting down that other Bennett, Arnold, as a vulgar outsider".

My place of education (not Cambridge, by the way) is about as relevant to my opinion of Bennett's work as the shape of my nostrils (the precise degree of flare of which, I'm pretty sure, Edward Pearce can have no direct knowledge). What I tried to convey is that the rather flimsy biography under review failed to dispel the well-worn caricature of Bennett, both as man and writer. It's true that I'm not a Bennett fan, but I can assure Pearce that I have nothing against northerners or the north. Indeed, I'm rather fond of whippets.

It was nice of him to compare my writing to Virginia Woolf's, though.

Adam Newey
London SE8

This article first appeared in the 01 October 2001 issue of the New Statesman, What would you do?