Living in Interesting Times
I don’t suppose anyone really understands why some novelists, widely read, even celebrated, are eclipsed when they die. Why is R. C. Hutchinson (1907–75) now almost forgotten? The Unforgotten Prisoner (1933), his third novel and first success, sold 150,000 copies in the month of publication. Rising, his last novel, the final chapter unfinished when he died, was short-listed for the Booker Prize in 1975. It isn’t that publishers haven’t tried. Allison & Busby republished several of the novels as ‘modern classics’ in the 1980s and 1990s. Testament (1938) and The Unforgotten Prisoner were reissued as King Penguins in 1981 and 1983. And now Faber have reissued five of the novels as Faber Finds: The Unforgotten Prisoner, Testament, Recollection of a Journey (1952), A Child Possessed (1964) and Rising.