Farewell to Flashman creator

George MacDonald Fraser, author of the hugely entertaining Flashman novels, and is credited for the screenstory and screenplay on the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy, has died aged 82.

The Daily Mail, The Times and other papers report Fraser, whose fans included P G Wodehouse and Kingsley Amis, died after a battle with cancer.

The Flashman Papers was first published in 1969 after Fraser quit as assistant editor of the Glasgow Herald and detailed the adult life of Harry Flashman, the bullying schoolboy of the 19th-century classic Tom Brown’s Schooldays and becomes a roguish soldier in the British Army.

The first instalment of The Flashman Papers sees the fag-roasting rotter commence his military career as a reluctant secret agent in Afghanistan. Expelled from Rugby for drunkenness, and none too welcome at home after seducing his father’s mistress, the young Flashman embarks on a military career with Lord Cardigan’s Hussars. En route to Afghanistan, our hero hones his skills as a soldier, duellist, imposter, coward and amorist (mastering all 97 ways of Hindu love-making during a brief sojourn in Calcutta), before being pressed into reluctant service as a secret agent. His Afghan adventures culminate in a starring role in that great historic disaster, the Retreat from Kabul.

Murray Ritchie, 66, former political editor of The Herald has paid tribute to Fraser in the paper, revealing : “George Fraser went around Scotland with the other journalists to the outposts giving tuition and that’s how I met him.

“In journalism, he was great in all respects. He was a great writer, great sub-editor, great layout man, great headline writer, he was just a very talented individual.

“He rose effortlessly to become deputy editor in the 1960s and when he went home at night he was writing for himself and he had this idea that he would write a sequel to Tom Brown’s Schooldays and took the character Flashman and wrote the first of those novels.

“It was such an instant success that he made a lot of money. He had a choice – to bank his money or lose it to tax. So there and then he gave up his very glittering career on the Glasgow Herald.

“I do not think it pushed him away but it certainly kept him away. I do not think it had the same attraction for him.”

The Flashman Society web site includes a free Flashman reader offering a rundown of Flashman’s lurid career

Categories: British Comics - Books, Obituaries

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