Publisher pays tribute to respected Cornish author
Much-loved novelist E V Thompson, whose Cornish novels won him international acclaim, has died at his home on Bodmin Moor, aged 81.
The author of some 40 books, including the popular Retallick series, he was awarded the MBE earlier this year for services to literature and the community of Cornwall.
President of the Cornish Literary Guild, his contribution to the cultural life of his adopted land was rewarded 10 years ago when he was made a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd, taking the name Creftor Geryow (Craftsman of Words).
A former clay worker, hotel security guard, police officer and wartime sailor, his future career as a best-selling writer took off with his debut novel, Chase The Wind, written at a tiny cottage in the hamlet of Sharptor on Bodmin Moor.
Already the author of some 400 short stories, it was Chase The Wind that established him as a master of the historical novel. The book was an instant hit, translated into 14 languages. From then on his output remained prolific, producing, on average, one new title each year. His most recent book, Hawke's Tor, appeared in 2011, while his final work, The Bonds Of Earth, is due out in November.
Last night, the author's publisher, Robert Hale, paid tribute to a man whose imagination brought the lives of Retallicks, Jagos and other Cornish families into the homes of millions around the world.
"Ernest was a friendly, agreeable and likeable person who had the gift of getting on with everyone he met," said Mr Hale. "He was a publisher's dream author, not just because of what he wrote, but because of his efforts to promote and sell his books, which he was doing to the end with great success. What he wrote evoked the spirit of Cornwall, which explains why he had such a great following in Cornwall and elsewhere."
Among his many titles were The Music Makers, Winds Of Fortune, No Less Than The Journey, The Dream Traders, God's Highlander and, aptly, Discovering Bodmin Moor.
His first serious attempt at writing came while serving with the Navy during the Korean War. Witnessing the ordeal of refugees, the subsequent epic poem was to be the catalyst for a lifetime's work.
"That was the moment I realised I found it easier to put things down in words," he said. "The poem was a way of getting it out."
He wrote constantly while working as a police officer in Bristol and later during his time as an investigator in Hong Kong and the former Rhodesia. Returning to the UK, he and his wife moved to Lostwithiel, Golant and eventually a derelict miner's cottage at Sharptor that hadn't been lived in for 70 years.
Wandering the post-industrial landscape, he began to imagine the lives of those who worked the mines – the inspiration for Chase The Wind.
Mr Thompson's family confirmed that he died peacefully at home in Trebartha with his wife, Celia, and sons, Nathan and Luke, at his side.