Hay Player

Nicholas Shakespeare


Hay Festival 2000, 
Bruce Chatwin was the golden child of the contemporary English novel; by the time he died of an AIDS-related illness aged 49 in January 1989 he had produced the startlingly original masterpieces that made his name: Utz, The Viceroy of Ouidah, On The Black Hill, and In Patagonia, his instant classic of what can loosely be tremed 'travel literature'. In the preceding years this precocious, intense figure had been an art specialist at Sotheby's, a journalist with the Sunday Times, an archaeologist and a restless, questing traveller. By the time his novel of studying the Aboriginal dream-time in Australia, The Songlines, was published, he had gained a worldwide audience. An obsessive art collector, Chatwin also acquired people as he did fabulous objects. He took both male and female lovers while continuing to remain married to his wife Elizabeth, seemingly the most enduring relationship of his life. 'In Nicholas Shakespeare he has found, posthumously, the right biographer. There is a magnificent work of empathy and detection.' (Colin Thubron, Sunday Times)