Obituary Notes: Francis Wyndham; Jenny Joseph

Writer and editor Francis Wyndham, who "was renowned in the literary world for discovering, encouraging and befriending a string of writers who included V.S. Naipaul, Jean Rhys, Bruce Chatwin, Alan Hollinghurst and Edward St Aubyn," died December 28, the Guardian reported. He was 93. Wyndam also had his own late literary success with the publication of two volumes of short stories and a novella, The Other Garden, which won the Whitbread first novel prize in 1987.

He wrote reviews for the Times Literary Supplement, then read scripts for the publisher André Deutsch from 1955 until 1959. "There he discovered Naipaul, whose first two novels he persuaded Deutsch to publish," the Guardian noted. "They became lifelong friends. He found that Rhys, whom he had thought long dead, was alive and writing what became, under Francis's guidance, Wide Sargasso Sea."

Karl Miller discovered Wyndham's manuscript Out of the War, a short-story collection that had lain untouched for 30 years, when Wyndham was moving. Published to positive reviews, it encouraged him to write Mrs. Henderson and Other Stories (1985) and The Other Garden. Hollinghurst praised "the innate elegance, concision, comic but startling emotional accuracy" of his writing, and "the certainty one has of being in the hands of a writer who never wastes a word or puts one wrong."


Jenny Joseph, whose "Warning" was twice voted Britain's favorite poem and is best known for its opening lines ("When I am an old lady I shall wear purple/ With a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me"), died January 8, BBC News reported. She was 85. "Warning" also inspired the launch of the Red Hat Society, a women's group whose members wear purple, accessorized with a red hat.

Bloodaxe Books, one of Joseph's publishers, noted that the success of the poem is said to have annoyed her: "At the same time, she was delighted that it had been translated into numerous languages and was known throughout the world. What she disliked most was that this early poem written in her 20s overshadowed the rest of her work, which was largely concerned with the duality of existence.... She viewed her poems as attempts to present 'how things work' at the core, at the edge."

Joseph was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999 and won the James Tait Black Prize for fiction for her work of prose and verse Persephone. She won the Cholmondeley Award for her second poetry collection, Rose in the Afternoon. Her books include Selected Poems; Extended Similes; Led by the Nose: A Garden of Smells; and The Inland Sea.

Enitharmon Press director Stephen Stuart-Smith, who worked with her on 2009's Nothing Like Love, described the collection as "exploring a wide range of literary forms, new ways of telling stories, and demonstrating her skill in introducing cadences and everyday speech into the lyrical movement of her verse.... As a person and as a poet she was warm and witty, as a friend loyal and supportive, as a performer entertaining as well as unpredictable."

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