Author of Flashman series dies
George MacDonald Fraser, the author of the popular Flashman series, has died from cancer. He was 82.
The former soldier and journalist, best remembered for his books charting the adventures of Sir Harry Flashman, a fictional soldier and hero of the Victorian wars in the 19th century, passed away yesterday, said his publisher.
Fraser's inspiration for the Flashman series came from the Thomas Hughes novel Tom Brown's Schooldays, in which Flashman is mentioned as a cowardly bully at Rugby school. He went on to develop the character as a pompous womaniser who despite running from many of the battles of the British empire always ends up swathed in glory by the end of the plot.
The books contain highly detailed historic accounts from the author's own research and the author Kingsley Amis once called him "a marvellous reporter and a first-rate historical novelist".
The books were based on a set of imaginary memoirs, the Flashman Papers, supposedly written by the character himself. At the time the books were criticised for being sexual and racist but were loved by teenage boys.
Since the first novel in the series was published in 1969, they went on to be bestsellers and Fraser was praised for his historical accuracy.
He was born in Carlisle in 1926 and at 18 joined the Border Regiment to serve in the Second World War.
In 1943 his battalion was sent to India and he was also involved in fighting against the Japanese. He became a Lieutenant and at the end of the war moved to the Gordon Highlanders, serving in the Middle East.
After leaving the Army, he began work as a reporter and eventually moved to the Glasgow Herald. In 1966 he briefly held the position of editor. But Fraser decided he had had enough of newspapers and did not like the way they were changing.
He began work on the Flashman series as a way out of journalism and 12 books were published between 1969 and 2005.
During this time he also wrote a number of scripts for films including The Three Musketeers which featured Oliver Reed and the James Bond film Octopussy.
He moved to the Isle of Man and was awarded the OBE in July 1999 for a literary career spanning 30 years.
(from the UK Telegraph)