The Book of Forgotten Authors
By Christopher Fowler
99 forgotten authors, their forgotten books, and their unforgettable stories
'I love it! A real gem' Joanne Harris
'Will have the inevitable effect of sending readers in search of these intriguing lost names' Barry Forshaw
Absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you're dead.
So begins Christopher Fowler's foray into the back catalogues and backstories of 99 authors who, once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from our shelves.
Whether male or female, domestic or international, flash-in-the-pan or prolific, mega-seller or prize-winner - no author, it seems, can ever be fully immune from the fate of being forgotten. And Fowler, as well as remembering their careers, lifts the lid on their lives, and why they often stopped writing or disappeared from the public eye.
Reasons range from their bizarre career choices - like Patrick Dennis, the mid-20th century American novelist who would eventually become the butler for the CEO of McDonald's; to their untimely deaths - for instance the 19th century English satirist Thomas Love Peacock, who suffered the most literary of all fates, perishing from injuries sustained trying to save his library from a fire.
These 99 journeys are punctuated by 12 short essays about faded once-favourites: including the now-vanished novels Walt Disney brought to the screen, the contemporary rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie who did not stand the test of time, and the women who introduced us to psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world.
This is a book about books and their authors. It is for book lovers, and is written by one who could not be a more enthusiastic, enlightening and entertaining guide.
100. A typical example of the late 20th century midlist author, Christopher Fowler was born in the less attractive part of Greenwich in 1953, the son of a scientist and a legal secretary. He went to a London Guild school, Colfe's, where, avoiding rugby by hiding in the school library, he was able to begin plagiarising in earnest. He published his first novel, Roofworld, described as 'unclassifiable', while working as an advertising copywriter. He left to form The Creative Partnership, a company that changed the face of film marketing, and spent many years working in film, creating movie posters, tag lines, trailers and documentaries, using his friendship with Jude Law to get into nightclubs.
During this time Fowler achieved several pathetic schoolboy fantasies, releasing an appalling Christmas pop single, becoming a male model, posing as the villain in a Batman comic, creating a stage show, writing rubbish in Hollywood, running a night club, appearing in the Pan Books of Horror and standing in for James Bond.
Now the author of over forty novels and short story collections, including his award-winning memoir Paperboy and its sequel Film Freak, he writes the Bryant & May mystery novels, recording the adventures of two Golden Age detectives in modern-day London.
In 2015 he won the CWA Dagger In The Library award for his detective series, once described by his former publisher as 'unsaleable'.
Fowler is still alive and one day plans to realise his ambition to become a Forgotten Author himself.
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- Publication date:
05 Oct 2017
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Christopher Fowler's cherishable book is as quirky and mesmerising as one of his novels; his detailed, loving excavation of a slew of unjustly neglected writers will have the inevitable effect of sending readers in search of these intriguing lost names. — Barry Forshaw, Financial Times
A real gem, filled with old favourites and new discoveries, and written in a light, snappy, erudite tone, as satisfying as a full English breakfast at your local art-house cafe. — Joanne Harris