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Booth, Martin 1944-2004 (Alex Laishley)

BOOTH, Martin 1944-2004 (Alex Laishley)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born September 7, 1944, in Ribchester, Lancashire, England; died of brain cancer, February 12, 2004, in Stoodleigh, Devon, England. Educator, publisher, and author. Booth was an acclaimed author who was most lauded for his novels, although he wrote everything from poetry to nonfiction to children's books. Though Booth was born in England, his father's job with the civil service led to Booth's spending much of his childhood in Kenya and Hong Kong, locations that would influence his later writings. He returned to London to earn a teaching certificate from the University of London in 1968, after which he embarked on a sixteen-year career as an English teacher, becoming a faculty member at Castle School, Taunton. Booth's first writing efforts, inspired by his meeting with Edmund Blunden while he was in Hong Kong, were in poetry, beginning with Paper Pennies and Other Poems (1967). He later won the E. C. Gregory Award for Poetry for his The Crying Embers (1971) and the Poets' Yearbook Award for Extending upon the Kingdom (1977). Though he continued to publish verse collections through the 1980s, by the 1970s his interests were turning more and more toward fiction and nonfiction. His first great success as a novelist came with Hiroshima Joe (1985), which allowed him to leave teaching to pursue writing full time. He was later nominated for the Booker Prize for his 1998 novel, The Industry of Souls. Along with his many other poetry collections and novels for adults, Booth also penned children's novels, such as Music on the Bamboo Radio (1997) and Panther (2000), nonfiction about wildlife, including Rhino Road: The Natural History and Conservation of the African Rhinos (1992) and the BBC documentary Man-Eaters of Kumaon, and biographies such as The Doctor, the Detective, and Arthur Conan Doyle: A Biography of Arthur Conan Doyle (1997), as well as books on subjects ranging from poetry criticism to travel to history. Booth's last books include the novel Islands of Silence (2002) and Cannabis: A History (2003). A prolific author by any measure, Booth also ran the small publishing company Sceptre Press from 1968 to 1981. At the time of his death, he had just completed three more children's books and an autobiography of his childhood, Gweilo: Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood, published in 2004.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Daily Telegraph (London, England), February 14, 2004.

Guardian (London, England), February 14, 2004, p. 27.

Independent (London, England), February 16, 2004, p. 35.

Times (London, England), February 18, 2004, p. 27.

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