Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Tom Sharpe's Ashes...

Tom Sharpe photographed by Roger Adams
Novelist's ashes to be scattered in Northumberland

by Sara Nichol
The Journal
Jun 7 2013

BRITISH novelist Tom Sharpe, famous for his satirical farces such as Blott On The Landscape and his Wilt series of books, is to have his ashes scattered in Northumberland.

The writer, who has died at the age of 85, had major success with his 16 books and had been hailed as one of the UK’s “greatest satirists”.

One of his books, The Throwback, was based in Northumberland and the author has chosen to have some of his ashes scattered there.

The plot was based around the ancient Flawse family, landed gentry based at the falling-down Flawse Hall.

Thockrington, in the west of the county, was also where his father and grandfather came from and where he spent summers as a child.

Sharpe had been living in northern Spain for two decades and died on Wednesday in the town of Llafranc in Catalonia, which he had made his home.

He is believed to have had a stroke in the past fortnight, losing the use of his legs, as a result of complications with his diabetes. Ill health had led to lengthy periods between books over the years.

Sharpe won huge acclaim for his books, with The Times calling him “the funniest novelist writing today”, although he came to writing late in life, publishing his first novel, Riotous Assembly, when he was 43 in 1971.

Within a few years, he had published his best-known works Porterhouse Blue, Wilt and Blott On The Landscape.

Susan Sandon, managing director of his publisher Cornerstone, said: “Tom Sharpe was one of our greatest satirists and a brilliant writer: witty, often outrageous, always acutely funny about the absurdities of life.

“The private Tom was warm, supportive and wholly engaging. I feel enormously privileged to have been his publisher.”

After studying at Lancing College and Pembroke College, Cambridge, he served in the marines before moving to South Africa in his early 20s, working as a social worker and teacher, and he also had his own photographic studio.

However, after 10 years, in 1961, he was deported for criticising the apartheid regime and returned to the UK to lecture at Cambridge College of Arts and Technology, a period which helped to inspire his character Wilt, who featured in five novels.

Sharpe’s American widow, Nancy Looper Sharpe, wept as she said she would remember her late husband’s sense of humour, his sense of morality and his love of travel.

She said: “It is very sad to lose him but the lovely people here have been very supportive. He had not been well latterly and about 10 days ago he possibly had a stroke.

“He lost the use of his legs and he could not accept that he couldn’t walk. He was very physically strong but his breathing became weaker and weaker, and finally stopped last night. It was sooner than I expected and I was shocked.”

The 76-year-old, who married Sharpe in 1969, said her daughter from another relationship and two daughters with the writer would be at the funeral this weekend.

The BBC adaptation of Blott On The Landscape starred George Cole, Geraldine James and David Suchet, while David Jason headed the cast of Porterhouse Blue when it was made for television.