A few days ago I was walking past a bookshop in my home in the south ofFrancewhen I saw a copy of a book called ‘The American’. I knew it as ‘A Very Private Gentleman’. It had been written by Martin Booth.
I first met Martin Booth when I was teaching creative writing at an Arts Centre inSomerset. He brought in a poet who was due to give a reading that evening. When Martin was asked if he wanted a drink he declined, saying that he never drank when he was writing. He was flamboyant, eccentric and I could not help but notice him.
A few years later I booked an author to talk to a group of students at the college. I received a courteous letter and had a pleasant phone conversation. When he arrived for the talk I realised it was the same man who had acted as chauffer for his friend.
He gave a great talk. We became friends and he spoke for me at many events over the years.
As time went on we drifted apart. His writing career took off and I followed it with interest. I saw him after a ten year gap. He was very excited about a potential film-making deal inHollywood.
Two years later he died, having struggled long and bravely against cancer.
I always felt that Martin was a proud member of that ancient line of jobbing artist. This is in no way to diminish him. He was interested, fascinated by a wide range of subjects. As a polymath he would turn his pen to anything which appealed to him, producing professional, entertaining and impressive work. He wrote poetry, novels and biography.
He was a great writer, a great reader and a traveller. He would, I am sure, have been pleased that I saw his book in a little bookshop in theRiviera. Have a look at his books.