Author of classic children’s novel Carrie’s War and the Booker shortlisted Circles of Deceit, Nina Bawden has died today aged 87.
Apart from writing over forty novels for adults and children, she campaigned for justice in one of her last books after the 2002 Potter’s Bar railway crash took the life of her second husband Austen Kark.
Interspersed with love letters, Dear Austen tells of ‘the lamentable failure of all governments since 1945 to take proper responsibility for the country’s rail infrastructure’ and it was her attempt to do what she could ‘to put that negligence right’. Read an extract here.
Bawden also read The Spectator on occasion. In January 1986 she wrote into the letters page.
Sir: I am astounded by Peregrine Worsthorne’s suggestion (Diary, 4 January) that I do not read the books I review. I read his ‘dear friend’s’ novel twice to reassure myself that it had enough quality to merit a notice. I wrote in my review that as a ‘spy story’ – a generic slot into which I felt it most nearly fitted – it ‘sustained the excitement’. I said this because I had enjoyed many things about the book and wished to commend it, even although I had thought that as a novel in the wider sense it was not wholly successful; overwritten in places to the point of obscurity and with a silly, trumped-up ending. If I had not, out of kindness, omitted the fullness of this judgment from my review, Mr Stacey would have had a more cogent reason for objecting to it; indeed, he might have wished I had not read his novel so carefully.
As for Mr Worsthorne – once upon a time, when even he was young, I snorted into a glass of warm mock champagne at a party and he whipped out a beautiful, scarlet, silk handkerchief. Remembering his gentlemanly behavior on that occasion with gratitude, I have decided not to instruct my solicitors.
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