The Book of Forgotten Authors
By Christopher Fowler
About the Author
Christopher Fowler was born in a less attractive part of Greenwich, London in 1953, the son of a scientist and 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.
He achieved many schoolboy fantasies including releasing a Christmas pop single, becoming a male model, posing as a villan in a Batman comic, writing in Hollywood, creating a stage show, running a nightclub, 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 and 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.
99 forgotten authors, their forgotten books, and their unforgettable stories.
“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 back stories 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: stories often stranger than fiction many of them wrote.
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, the women who introduced us to psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world.
I was given this book as a “Secret Santa” present, so quite some time ago now and I am so pleased that I have finally found some time to be reading it. I announced some time ago that I was going to include a book by Christopher Fowler in my blog. Ok, it took me longer than I had anticipated because other life events that were unexpected happened. I do however always remember and do what I say I will do, even if it takes a bit of time to get round to what is also such a pleasurable book to read. It was worth the wait for me.
The book begins by posing the most interesting question: “Why are good authors forgotten? ” The question is answered in a considered manner, as well as explaining the process a bit of how the authors you will find within the rest of the pages came to be included.
As I glance down the content pages, I can already see that this book is going to be an education of interest and wonderment. There are certainly plenty of names I have never heard of before, but now feel I ought to know and delve deeper into the book to find out more. There are also however names that interest me in the very fact that they are becoming forgotten by so many people and yet I remember them, such as Virgina Andrews, Forgotten nonsense writers such as Edward Lear and Lewis Caroll, Keith Waterhouse, but I know full-well that they are becoming forgotten by different generations, even my own, relatively young generation didn’t all know who they were.
There are also fascinating sections such as: Forgotten rivals of Holmes, Bond and Miss Marple, The Forgotten Disney Connection. Who would have ever thought there were forgotten books by Charles Dickens? Well there are. Some authors are not remembered, but their work has been adapted into a film, so that is what people remember, but not who created the original work in the first place. So, it’s interesting nuggets like that, which are highlighted or well-known authors who have created a larger body of work that what is actually remembered because the focus may be on their most well-known. Take Charles Dickens for example, the only other person I know to have talked (or rather acted) Doctor Marigold and some other relatively unknown stories in an amazing 1 man play was Simon Callow at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival many years ago. If it weren’t for that, then I would never have heard of this story.
There are, as I mentioned before, many authors who I had not heard of, perhaps some readers of my blog may have done such as Charlotte Armstrong, Kyril Bonfiglioli, Barbara Comyns Carr, Charles Hamilton to name but a few. These completely unknown authors to me also have their own interesting stories and it is fascinating how some authors have connections in some way or another to some authors, some generations do have memories of or are still on some library bookshelves.
These discoveries caused much intrigue within itself, so I had to find out more. I won’t of course spoil it for readers of my blog by writing what I discovered. Let’s just say it is very fascinating indeed.
With just 2-3 pages devoted to each author, it is tightly written and an excellent read. It’s such an interesting read. It’s non-fiction and yet the way the facts are presented, there’s still some twists and turns within them as there are new discoveries to be made and each has a great narrative. We get to know a little about the authors themselves and the books they wrote as well as what happened and how they became so forgotten about in the midst of time. It got me thinking about whether they were deserving to be so forgotten about. I would say, not necessarily so from reading this book that also gives a glimpse into what the authors wrote, the impact they made at the time and how perhaps some people may like to read some of the books today, but perhaps may never get the chance to.
The book flows so easily as it glides from one author to another. This is far from reading a text-book or anything of that ilk. This book is written in a way that would interest many people and is very accessible to all through its lightness and fast pace.
By the end of the book, I found that I learnt a lot in a relaxed, casual manner through new discoveries and reading about old favourites.
If you have ever wondered why authors can be forgotten or certain genres that they have written are less well-known to perhaps what they wrote most of, or what happened to certain authors and why they stopped writing, then this is one of the most enlightening, most interesting books for you. It is very much worth investing the time to read this unique book, which seems to be well-considered, excellently paced and well-researched. The enthusiasm of the author – Christopher Fowler to be dedicated to write such a book really shows through all he has written as he takes readers on his exploration to uncover what may have been hidden secrets of the forgotten authors if it weren’t for such dedication to discover the lost treasures in the writing world.
So I whole-heartedly recommend this book, even if non-fiction is not your usual book. The book is unique and I reckon will add insight to any reader’s knowledge about some fictional writers, well, 99 of them. It is an excellent book to either read all in one go or dip in and out of as you please.
Christopher Fowler will be appearing at the Aye Write Festival 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland where he will be talking about The Book of Forgotten Authors.
Title: The Book of Forgotten Authors
Author: Christopher Fowler
Publisher: Riverrun – an imprint of Quercus Editions Ltd – A Hatchette UK Company
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-78648-491-8
Main Purchase Points: Waterstones, WH Smith, Amazon