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Tom Wakefield Biography

(1935–96), Forties Child, Mates, The Discus Throwers, The Variety Artistes, Lot's Wife, War Paint

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British novelist and short-story writer, born into a mining family in Staffordshire, educated at the University of London. Forties Child (1980) is a poignant recreation of his early years. Wakefield was the author of a number of novels which celebrate the sensitive person trapped by the conventions that society demands. The stubborn strength in a homosexual attachment is the subject of Mates (1983) where the ironical ending casts a transfiguring light on the relationship at the centre of the book. The Discus Throwers (1985) is a moving blend of the comic-grotesque and the near-tragic, and confers nobility on its characters through its ending. The central character of The Variety Artistes (1987) is an elderly widow, Lydia Poulton, who is determined to enjoy her old age, despite attempts on the part of her family to make her conform to conventional ideas of widowhood. Lot's Wife (1989) deals with similar themes and displays Wakefield's characteristic humour. War Paint (1993) is a portrait of a Midland's mining community during the Second World War. Drifters (1984) is a collection of short stories, and ‘The Other Way’ a touching novella concerning a lonely Englishwoman holidaying in North Africa (published in the triptych Secret Lives, 1991, together with novellas by Wakefield's friends Patrick Gale and Francis King). He edited an anthology of stories, The Ten Commandments (1992), to which he also contributed.

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