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Gemmell, David A. 1948-2006

(David Andrew Gemmell, Rose Harding, Ross Harding)

OBITUARY NOTICE—

See index for CA sketch: Born August 1, 1948, in London, England; died of complications following heart bypass surgery, July 28, 2006. Editor and author. Gemmell was a best-selling author of fantasy novels. Beginning his life rather inauspiciously, the young Gemmell was a poor student, perhaps because he lived in a rough neighborhood where he often got into fist fights. Expelled from school when he was sixteen because he was caught gambling, Gemmell worked as a truck driver, laborer, and bouncer until he had a chance to apply for a newspaper job. Though he was unqualified for the position, his skill as a persuasive talker and debater, so essential for his later career as an author, convinced the interviewer that he was the man for the job. He worked as a reporter and editor for the Westminster Press from 1966 to 1972, and later was an editor for the Hastings Observer and Folkestone Herald. Eventually, Gemmell was named editor in chief over five newspapers in the South Coast syndicate, as well as working as a stringer for a number of national papers. A first attempt at a novel resulted in many rejections, and Gemmell did not attempt to write fiction again until he was twenty-eight. Believing he had terminal cancer, he penned his second manuscript in just two weeks. It, too, was rejected by publishers. Fortunately, Gemmell's tumor proved to be non-life-threatening. A friend who saw his second book offered a number of suggestions, and Gemmell rewrote it. The result was Legend, his 1984 fantasy that became a best seller. The theme of aging and death that pervades the book, as well as the power of redemption that reflected his Christian beliefs, would become characteristic of many of his later novels. Gemmell also often drew on Celtic mythology and ancient history in his stories. He published over thirty novels in his career, many of them in series, such as the "Drenai," "Sipstrassi," "Macedon," "Hawk Queen," and "Rigante." Gemmell also wrote stand-alone novels and one unsuccessful crime novel, White Knight, Black Swan, which was released under the pen name Ross Harding. Two of his works, Legend and Wolf in Shadow, were adapted as graphic novels. At the time of his death, he was working on completing a new trilogy based on the Trojan War. Only the first two books were completed, however: Lord of the Silver Bow (2005) and Shield of Thunder (2006).

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Times (London, England), August 1, 2006, p. 49.

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Gemmell, David A. 1948-2006

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