Friday, 7 January 2011

Remembering Dick King Smith

In the long-ago and far-off days when I was editor of the new and shiny Banana Books series for Heinemann, I met a tall countryman with a shock of greyish hair, a twinkly eye and a tweedy jacket.  I liked him at once, and he, being fond of anagrams, christened me the Lacy Scout, which is how he addressed me during the short time we worked together on his book, Lightning Fred

The tall man was, of course, the wonderful Dick King Smith, who died last Tuesday at the grand old age of 88.  I remember Dick telling me, during one of the long and slightly boozy lunches editors were allowed to take authors to in those days, of the fight he had to get his first book, The Fox Busters, published.
He said, laughing, that Heinemann was one of the publishers which had rejected him, at which I felt very embarrassed (though of course it was long before I arrived there).  At that time, all unsolicited manuscripts received were logged in large red books, with columns for date received and reply. In a quiet moment I trawled through these, and there indeed, in large letters, were the words, Dick King Smith |The Fox Busters | Rejected. In later years I told him how much my own children had enjoyed his writing, and, as always, he sent a lovely letter back to the Lacy Scout.  I salute him and know that his animal creations, all, in his own words 'speaking The Queen's English', will live on for a very long time as a magnificent memorial to a writer who, in his own quiet way, was one of the best.


Katherine Langrish said...

What a lovely post, and how wonderful that you met him!

Book Maven said...

I met him a few times in the Banana era! Lovely man and lovely books.

Nice tribute.

Stroppy Author said...

'Dodos are forever' was our car tape for long journeys for many years. We got through at least three sets of the tapes because they were used until they wore out. My bints still quote from it fairly regularly. I wish I'd thought to tell him that while he was alive.

What a lovely memorial, Lacy :-)

Nicky Schmidt (Absolute Vanilla) said...

Lovely tribute and how luck you were to have met him!

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