Sunday, December 16, 2007

A life of restless travelling in a Bedford Dormobile

A rather wonderful obituary in the Telegraph for Anthony Burgess's widow, Liana Burgess. A taste of it:
Liana's sister, Grazia, died young in a mountaineering accident, and her mother, who claimed to be descended from Attila the Hun, spent years mourning her dead daughter by painting countless portraits of her and writing bad poetry in her memory.
And this:
When she read A Clockwork Orange and Inside Mr Enderby (published under the pseudonym Joseph Kell), she believed that she had discovered two novelists of genius. She wrote enthusiastically to both authors and was surprised to discover that they were the same man.

They arranged to meet for lunch in Chiswick, and immediately began a clandestine affair. "I fell in love with the work," she said later. "Anthony was never a good-looking man."
(Thanks to Non-Dizzies Ed for the link.)


  1. I really like that idea of being attracted to someone not because of a name but because of their ideas. She must have been genuinely "in tune" to have had the same reaction to the writer of two works. I suspect it is highly unusual for a reader to pay so much attention. It reminds me of that book Doris Lessing once wrote under a different name, that nobody would publsh. (I know that Doris L isn't the only established author to have done this, but she's the only one I can remember at time of writing.)

  2. Per Maxine's comment, see the relative success of Stephen King vs. Richard Bachman.

  3. Agreed, but I believe RB was "juvenelia", so slightly different -- though I agree they seem not to have sold as well as SK even when "writing as" is emblazoned on the cover.

    Another "non-anonymous pseudonym" is Ruth Rendell, who writes under the name of Barbara Vine. She seems to sell very well in both personae -- in the UK, certainly. As RR she writes the Wexford series and lots of other non-series books and short stories. As BV she writes more psychological books, I have rather liked most of them that I've read, both names included.