Skip to main content

Vansittart, Peter 1920-2008

Vansittart, Peter 1920-2008

OBITUARY NOTICE—

See index for CA sketch: Born August 27, 1920, in Bedford, England; died October 4, 2008, in Ipswich, England. Educator, novelist, editor, and author. Vansittart wrote dozens of novels and other books and edited several anthologies, without ever reaching the best-seller lists or winning a prominent literary award, though eventually he was decorated an officer of the Order of the British Empire. His creative gift was a welcome treat for critics and some of his literary colleagues, but it was not for every reader's palate. He once told CA that his goal was "to explore different people, different relationships, in different layers of time, trying to fuse the apparently bizarre with the apparently commonplace." Vansittart's novels defied chronology and traditional plot development, Though they were often classified as historical fiction, fans of the genre were likely to be puzzled and ultimately disappointed. The "history" in novels like The Death of Robin Hood (1981) is hidden in Sherwood Forest, from which vantage point the author explored historical events from prehistory through the age of Robin's nemesis, King John, to the present day. Vansittart's creative imagination emerged in bursts and flashes that threatened to overwhelm the sensibilities of the casual reader, but critics and serious readers have expressed great admiration for his brilliance. In novel after novel, Vansittart reflected on the human condition, reminding readers that the topical issues of the twenty-first century—war, immigration, social upheaval, for example—have existed since the beginning of recorded time in one form or another. He challenged readers to explore the shreds of the past that still exist today. Despite the select audience for his work, Vansittart supported himself almost entirely by his book sales, particularly after he abandoned a twelve-year administrative position at a school in Hampstead, England, in 1959. Some of his books were intended for students, such as Green Knights, Black Angels: A Mosaic of History (1969). Vansittart's most reliable source of income, however, was a series of anthologies devoted to a single theme (such as revolution). He also published at least two memoirs that were described as similar to his fiction: short on fact, but excellent springboards for the author's thoughts on life and the world around him. Vansittart's most successful novels, according to his critics, seem to be The Tournament (1958), Three Six Seven: Memoirs of a Very Important Man (1983), and Parsifal (1988).

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

BOOKS

Contemporary Novelists, 7th edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Vansittart, Peter, Paths from a White Horse: A Writer's Memoir, Quartet Books (London, England), 1985.

Vansittart, Peter, Survival Tactics: A Literary Life, Peter Owen (London, England), 1999.

PERIODICALS

New York Times, October 23, 2008, p. B14.

Times (London, England), October 14, 2008, p. 61.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Vansittart, Peter 1920-2008." Contemporary Authors. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Vansittart, Peter 1920-2008." Contemporary Authors. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/vansittart-peter-1920-2008

"Vansittart, Peter 1920-2008." Contemporary Authors. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/vansittart-peter-1920-2008

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.