British author and journalist Alex Hamilton, who "had an unusually hard struggle to become a writer," but "was industrious, experimenting with genres, completing five novels" and a host of unpublished short stories, died November 2, the Guardian reported. He was 85.
His luck changed one evening when a stranger knocked at Hamilton's door. "In fact he was Jonathan Clowes, a fledgling literary agent who had heard of Alex's creative endeavors from his landlord," the Guardian wrote. "Clowes took away the dog-eared typescript of his latest novel, a picaresque, darkly comic saga of riverside London, and got it accepted as part of Hutchinson's New Authors series. As If She Were Mine appeared in 1962 with a cover illustration by Edward Ardizzone and an introduction by Alan Sillitoe, who compared Alex with Joyce Cary." The book sold 40,000 copies in paperback.
Hamilton went on to publish more novels, "concentrating on the macabre and the ghoulish," but later "he increasingly took to literary journalism" as a reviewer, columnist and, eventually, Guardian travel editor. "Above all, Alex conducted scores of interviews with literary figures. In fact, he probably met more famous authors than anyone on earth.... A selection of his conversations was issued in 2012 under the title Writing Talk," the Guardian noted.