Literature Portfolio

Shown below is my full collection of drawings related to literature.

Quick navigation to a specific portrait:

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming Pencil Portrait Read more & Prices

Ian Fleming died in August 1964 and upon hearing the news, Sean Connery would elect to play another round of golf in Spain with Rex Harrison. Recalling the precision with which the author had described his hero’s encounter with Goldfinger, the actor was moved to say “It seemed somehow appropriate”.

Who would have guessed that his literary creation, conceived in 1952, would be alive and well in 2016? If you’re familiar with the films but have never read his work, then dip your toe in, his attention to detail is astounding.

His one and only work for children – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – hinted at a parallel career he might well have developed further, had he not died at the early age of 56.

J.K. Rowling

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She started writing the Harry Potter series during a Manchester to London King’s Cross train journey, and during the next five years, outlined the plots for each book before commencing work on the first instalment.

The book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997), and the novels in the series which have succeeded it, have been an unprecedented success. They have topped all bestseller lists, won numerous awards, and been translated into over sixty languages. Worldwide sales of the Harry Potter books now exceed 300 million copies.

That’s the upside of being author J.K. Rowling. The downside for her is having an opinion on more worldly matters, and daring to express them. In the autumn of 2014, she released a statement explaining why she believed that Scotland was better off as part of the Union and that she was making a substantial donation to the ‘Better Together’ campaign. As a person who, whilst not Scottish by birth, had made the country her home for more than 20 years and had every intention of spending the rest of her life there, it seemed reasonable enough to believe that should be entitled to nail her sail to one of the two political masts. Predictably of course, what followed was a torrent of social media vitriol. Many of the comments directed at her from Yes campaigners on Twitter were simply unprintable – just expletive, invective-laden abuse, much of it displaying the most terrible sexism imaginable.

Perhaps it would be better for most of these internet trolls to devote quality time to creative writing, in an effort to replicate Rowling’s enormous annual UK tax bill. After all, financial settlement of such a size to HMRC is merely indicative of an entrepreneurial genius in her chosen field.

I don’t read her books and never will, but my (now) adult children still love her works, and she was perfectly entitled to use the status she now enjoys to promote what, in her opinion, was a valid cause

Agatha Christie

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One of the primary symptons of ‘dissociative fugue’ is a sudden form of disturbance, involving an unexpected journey away from the family home or workplace, with an inability to recall one’s past. This action may involve general confusion about one’s personal identity, or the adoption of a new one.

The length of a fugue may range from hours to weeks or months, and throughout this time, the individual may appear perfectly normal and nondescript. However, as a general self awareness develops, thoughts of amnesia and one’s former life may cause severe distress.

The prevalence of dissociative fugue has been estimated at 0.2%, which is extremely low, yet it offers one very compelling solution to the darkest of all Agatha Christie mysteries; namely what lay behind her extraordinary 11-day disappearance in 1926? Several plausible theories have competed for favour over the years, but Andrew Norman’s 2006 biography offers an explanation which satisfies every aspect of the case; namely that the novelist was in a fugue state, or, more technically, a psychogenic trance, a rare, deluded condition brought on by trauma or depression, which may also have led the writer and actor Stephen Fry to travel to Bruges in 1995 without leaving word with his friends or family.

Whatever one’s view, its been a mystery worthy of the joint best selling fiction writer of all time…..

Enid Blyton

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As a brand name, novels by Enid Blyton still generate annual sales of over 450,000.

In September 2010, Hodder published revised editions of the Famous Five which modernised some of the language and the names, in order to attract a new generation of readers, although the publisher was quick to add that traditional versions would remain available. Words such as “golly,” “rather” and “awfully,” were phased out, while “Mother” and “Daddy” was replaced with “Mum” and “Dad”. A spokesman for the high street retailer, Waterstones, was quoted as saying at the time: “The way the children express themselves in Enid Blyton can be a bit alienating for children today. The way the books are written and the words that are used, are not necessarily relatable to nowadays.”

Still ever present in the annual list of top twenty best selling authors, despite the perceived dated quality of her prose, her work has endured without the added assistance of film adaptations. That’s some going, nearly fifty years after her death.

John Grisham

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In the mid 1980s John Grisham, then a small-town lawyer and disillusioned member of the Mississippi state legislature, would fill the time between meetings and court hearings writing a novel about an ambitious young lawyer embroiled in a life-or-death fight for truth and justice. “It took me three years, and most of the time I thought I would never finish it. Eventually 5,000 hardback copies were printed and I was thrilled. But they did not sell out, it did not get a second edition, it was not published in paperback or picked up for foreign rights. Then I wrote “The Firm.”

The Firm,” Grisham’s 1991 story of another young lawyer in a jam, was on the New York Times bestseller lists for 44 weeks, sold more than 7 million copies and was made into a feature film starring Tom Cruise. “My first publishing experience was entirely normal and my second entirely abnormal,” he says. “I responded much better to the second experience than I did to the first.”

And, for Grisham at least, the “abnormality” of The Firm’s commercial success soon became the norm. His subsequent series of legal thrillers has gone on to sell close to 300 million copies and been translated into 40 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films starring A-list actors such as Julia Roberts, Gene Hackman, Sandra Bullock, Susan Sarandon and Dustin Hoffman.

An extremely wealthy yet essentially modest man, he is the first to admit that; “My name became a brand and I’d love to say it was the plan from the start, but the only plan was to keep writing books. And I’ve stuck to that ever since.”