Jonathan Coe is a novelist, biographer, musician and also the Duke of Prunes, his honorific as an aristocrat of the kingdom of Redonda, a small uninhabited island in the Caribbean.
Coe wanted to be a musician before he became a novelist and was the keyboard player for the feminist cabaret group Wanda and the Willy Warmers. However, he felt himself to be more temperamentally suited to writing: ‘I don’t thrive on competition, which is one of the reasons novel-writing suits me’ and became an accomplished satirist and analyst of modern Britain. His biography of the experimental novelist B.S. Johnson won the 2005 Samuel Johnson Prize but he is clear about the limits of the novel, saying: ‘This is fiction, that’s real life, don’t get the two confused.’