Blake, Robin 1948-

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Blake, Robin 1948-

(Robin James Blake)


Born December 12, 1948, in Preston, Lancashire, England; son of John (an engineer) and Beryl Blake; married Frances Waugh (a publisher), December 23, 1981; children: Matthew, Nicholas, Spike. Education: Jesus College, Cambridge, B.A., 1970, postgraduate certificate in education, 1972, M.A., 1974; Chelsea College, London, diploma, 1975. Religion: "Once a Catholic."


Home—London, England. Agent—Gill Coleridge, Rogers, Coleridge, White, 20 Powys Mews, London W.11, England. E-mail—[email protected].


Schoolteacher in England 1971-74; Institute for Tourism, Varna, Bulgaria, English teacher, 1975-76; English teacher at an English high school in Istanbul, Turkey, 1976-78; Capital Radio, London, England, broadcaster, producer, and writer of news, educational programs, and general features, 1979-86; freelance writer, 1986—. University of London, lecturer in radio production at Goldsmiths College, 1987-89.


Society of Authors, Radio Academy (member of council, 1984—), Association of Cinematograph and Television Technicians (member of executive committee, 1981-84).


Enigma (radio play), first broadcast by Capital Radio, 1984.

Mind over Medicine: Can the Mind Kill or Cure?, Pan Books (London, England), 1987.

(With Eleanor Stephens) Compulsion: A Psychological Study, Boxtree (London, England), 1987.

Fat Man's Shadow (novel), Penguin (London, England), 1991.

The Gwailo (novel), Penguin (London, England), 1992.

Anthony Van Dyck: A Life, 1599-1641, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2000.

Essential Modern Art, Parragon (Bath, England), 2000.

(With Clive Powell-Williams) Cold Burial, Penguin (London, England), 2001.

Saints, Collins (London, England), 2001.

(With Malcolm Warner) Stubbs and the Horse, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2004.

George Stubbs and the Wide Creation: Animals, People, and Places in the Life of George Stubbs, 1724-1806, Chatto & Windus (London, England), 2005.

Writer of six-play series Tales of a City, broadcast by Capital Radio, 1983. Radio critic for Tablet, 1984. Contributor to periodicals, including Independent on Sunday and Financial Times.


Robin Blake once told CA: "I am motivated only by the desire to make a living by being a good writer. I will write for any medium that holds out this prospect, but I love radio particularly because of its devotion to words and to bringing them alive."

More recently Blake added: "I never write for radio now. I am still motivated by trying to write well while making a living, but this has turned out to be far from easy, and much of my time has been occupied by different forms of ghost-writing, which at least helps to pay the bills. It seems to me that, as publishers and booksellers have fallen increasingly for the allure of rapid mass sales, ‘good writing’ has begun to look like a niche market, comparable to cookery books or train spotters' guides. At the same time libraries hardly seem to be about ‘serious’ books at all any more, with pitiful acquisition budgets and absolutely no ambition to take a lead in promoting good writing. The same can be said of the education system. We await the impact of paperless publishing and the implications thereof for authors. I fear it will all make the economic position of the professional writer even more dire than it is today."

Blake wrote the "lively biography" Anthony Van Dyck: A Life, 1599-1641, which Times Literary Supplement contributor Theodore K. Rabb described as "a highly personal account" of the life of an artist who "left few letters or other private documentation," combined with Blake's "entertaining speculations, particularly about [Van Dyck's] psychology, sexual inclinations, and attitude toward the powerful figures he painted." Accord- ing to Rabb, "the basic story of the career is well told, and, to make up for the penurious illustrations, Blake lists some of the Web sites where the pictures can be found."



Times Literary Supplement, September 17, 1999, Theodore K. Rabb, review of Anthony Van Dyck: A Life, 1599-1641, pp. 18-19.