Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Obit: Letters to the Guardian, October 1996; Anthony Sheil, lit agent

Guardian 23/10/96 p15
Letters: Tony Parker
Anthony Sheil writes: The oral historian Tony Parker (obituary, October 5) stayed up all night in anger and frustration at the execution of Timothy Evans. His remarkable wife, Margery, said: “Well, why don’t you do something about it?” Tony did: he set about writing his first book: The Courage of His Convictions.
His first half dozen books were all about the identity we all have with what is now referred to as “the excluded”; the pariahs with whom we have difficulty in sympathizing. In the romantic political fervour of the late 1960s, I remember thinking that Tony was all very well, but not in the forefront of political activism. He soon changed my view; he was a one-man political party fighting with enormous passion.
He once described to me leaving a south London down-and-outs hostel and being approached by a man who said: “Do you think there might be another piece of bread?”. In his downbeat Mancunian way, he manifested his fury at this level of need in an affluent society.
Austere though he was, his humour and irony were all-pervading. He was a Manchester United supporter from childhood who, when he went to live in Suffolk, supported Ipswich. You have to have irony to do that. A master of his craft he certainly was, but also a fighter for reform and a delightful and unforgettable man.

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