One of my favourite authors, Leslie Thomas, best known for his novel The Virgin Soldiers, died today aged 83.
Leslie Thomas's father was drowned when his ship was torpedoed in 1943. His mother died soon afterwards from cancer, so Leslie and his younger brother, Roy found themselves in a Dr. Barnardo's Home in Newport, south Wales, an experience memorably described many years later in his first autobiography This Time Next Week.
Leslie had a successful career as a Fleet Street reporter before he began writing novels. In 2004 he was awarded an OBE for services to literature. His first novel, The VirginSoldiers, was inspired by Leslie Thomas' national service in Malaya and describes the exploits of British soldiers based in the Far East. He went on to write a further thirty successful novels, as well as travel books and his second biography In My Wildest Dreams, published in 1984. During his lifetime his international books sales were more than fourteen million.
I will remember Leslie Thomas for his great sense of humour and talent for weaving the details of his life into some of my all-time favourite novels.