Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, German born writer from Cologne, died on 3 April 2013. She won the Booker award for her novel ‘Heat and Dust’. She collaborated with James Ivory and Ismail Merchant writing the screenplays for twenty films that they produced. She won her first Oscar for the film ‘Mr and Mrs Bridge’ in 1990 and her second for ‘Howard’s End’ in 1992. Ismail Merchant once commented: “It is a strange marriage we have at Merchant Ivory… I am an Indian Muslim, Ruth is a German Jew, and Jim is a Protestant American. Someone once described us as a three-headed god. Maybe they should have called us a three-headed monster!”
Eamonn McCabe continues to provide a wonderful photographic insight into the minds of authors, poets, novelists and cultural writers with his outstanding portrait photos. Writers are probably one of the hardest subjects to photograph as their profession takes place completely inside their heads. They don’t stand on a podium and wave a baton, or demonstrate the physical beauty of playing a musical instrument. The photographer has to somehow capture what it is that inspires authors to create and communicate this to his audience.
Shirley Hughes has captivated decades of young readers with her sympathetic characters and she smiles winningly at us, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who died on 3rd April as we are writing, seems to muse on the endless magic webs she spins around her characters in India and America. Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian author recognised for his key role in developing African literature, has died on 21st March in Boston, where he was working as a professor, draws us close in Eamonn McCabe’s photo. A C Grayling, Master of the New College of Humanities, welcomes us to his book lined office. Nadeem Aslam, the young British writer, sits anxiously on the edge of the bench. The skill of a great photographer is that he allows the viewer a place to weave their own fantasies around the images that he shows them. Eamonn McCabe fits into this category.
Hilary Mantel has won the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for her novel Bring up the Bodies, the sequel to Wolf Hall, which won the prize in 2009. Mantel is the first woman and the first living British author to win the prestigious literary prize twice.
Happy Birthday Roald Dahl! The much-loved author would have been 96 today. These black and white portraits were taken in 1985 by Lebrecht photographer Horst Tappe.
2012 also marks 30 years since The BFG was first published back in 1982. Short for The Big Friendly Giant, the book tells the story of Sophie (based on Dahl’s Granddaughter, Sophie Dahl) and the world’s only friendly giant who collects good dreams and distributes them to children. This wonderful children’s book has been made into both a film and a theatre performance.
Pictures are now online from The Edinburgh International Book Festival, which took place between 11-27 August this year. Over 800 authors from around the globe gathered in Edinburgh bringing writers and readers together across 750 events over 17 days.