Category Archives: Everyone

Rudolph Patrick Holzapfel 1938-2005

This week I’m celebrating the life and work of my friend and mentor Rudi Holzapfel.

Rudi died of cancer on 6 February 2005 and it seems the time has passed so quickly. He was a wonderful, caring and talented man. I first met him when we worked together in a bookshop – me because I was just starting my career, Rudi because he needed to work while preparing his PhD on the works of James Clarence Mangan.

I had never met anyone who said they were a poet – writer, artist, musician, yes – but never a poet. I came to know him very well both at work and outside when we were able to escape the draconian clutches of the people who ran the shop. I was fascinated by how and what he wrote and fortunate to witness his work first hand when he wrote a poem ‘The Employee’ based on my work in the store. I still have the original written on a sheet of brown wrapping paper we used to pack piles of books for the students. It was published in the The Penguin Book of Irish Verse (1970) and has even been set to music, though how and to what end escapes me.

I moved on to a new job and a new world and Rudi moved away, but not before he persuaded me that I could write and indeed that should write. He mentored me, critique my writing and pushed me to that goal. As I browse through the pile of memorabilia he gave me with the words: ‘Keep this safe. One day I might be famous’, and through my collection of his published works I’m saddened that such a great talent has gone for good. But he leaves behind a wealth of wonderful material. A list of books and audio readings by Rudi can be found at


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Book Fair Trailblazer Awards 2017

The London Book Fair has announced the winners of the second Trailblazer Awards celebrating young talent under the age of 30 in publishing who have demonstrated innovation, creativity, passion for the industry, ambition, and a desire to be the best at what they do.

The winners are:

  • Anna Russo, Sales Executive at Hodder Education
  • Caroline Tatam, Platform Marketing Executive at Cambridge University Press
  • Claire O’Neill, Business Affairs Manager at Audible
  • Željka Marošević, Co-Publisher at Daunt Books Publishing
  • Heather McDaid, Publisher at 404 INK / Scot Lit Fest

The five winners will each receive: VIP entry to The London Book Fair 2017; Membership to The Club at the Ivy pop-up at the Fair; Inclusion in the LBF International Excellence Awards.

The Trailblazer Awards were founded by The London Book Fair in 2015 and are supported by the Society of Young Publishers and BookBrunch.


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Shakespeare and beyond

Last Saturday’s Shakespeare celebrations saw the BBC getting back to what it does best with its Shakespeare Live (BBC2) broadcast. Thankfully they couldn’t cut it short for some depressing news report or bore us to death with yet more football. The wealth of talent really made the show, plus a great mix of music, performance and dance gave a good insight into Shakespeare’s influences. My two particular favourites were the Horrible Histories take on the Bard and a sketch where several of our best known actors explain to Paapa Essiedu where the emphasis should be in Hamlet’s famous soliloquy ‘To be or not to be’. Contradictions abound with the final word being left to Prince Charles!

For anyone wanting to dig deeper into Shakespeare,  I can highly recommend the FutureLearn course Shakespeare and His World which kicked off on April 18. This is a 10 week course consisting of videos, articles, play readings etc. Don’t be put off by the time – you get out what you put in – and the first week is a basic intro, so it’s easy to catch up. This week’s play is The Merry Wives of Windsor. This is one play I’ve neither read, nor seen, and having started on the opening scene I’m not surprised, but I’ll persevere. A great resource among the hundreds of books on offer is Bill Bryson’s  Shakespeare (Harper Collins): a biographical romp full of fascinating facts interspersed with Bryson’s trademark humour.

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The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge is 2015 Costa Book of the Year

This is only the second children’s book in the prize’s history to win Book of the Year – the first in 2001 was Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass

The Lie Tree, the author’s seventh novel, tells the story of Faith Sunderly whose family have shipped out from England to a remote island to escape scandal. When Faith’s father is found dead under mysterious circumstances, she is determined to untangle the truth from the lies. Searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree that feeds off whispered lies. It will take all Faith’s courage to discover the truth behind the curious events on the island of Vane, and what, or who, killed her beloved father.

Very many congratulations to Frances. I look forward to reading it very soon.

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Have you seen the ‘Light’ for National Poetry Day 2015?

How are you celebrating National Poetry Day this year? This year’s theme is LIGHT.

Search the web & you’ll come up with hundreds of events local and national.

I’ll be marking the day by finishing my ‘Wordsworth’ study, working on my own poem on the ‘light’ theme (maybe for my National Poetry Competition entry) and reading Poetry Notebook by Clive James – heartily recommended for anyone with an interest in the subject. As with all Clive James books you can hear that distinct voice that’s entertained us for decades. If I can make it, I’ll also be attending local events to mark the day.

Today would be a good day to wish Clive all the very best and a thousand thanks for giving us such pleasure.

Have a look at Poetry Day resources and check out the Poetry Society website for Poetry Day Live in London.

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