Obituary: Jeremy Brooks

Article excerpt

Jeremy Clive Meikle Brooks, novelist, playwright: born Southampton 17 December 1926; Literary Manager, Royal Shakespeare Company 1962- 69; married 1950 Eleanor Nevile (one son, three daughters): died Llanfrothen, Gwynedd 27 June 1994.

JEREMY BROOKS was a writer of total integrity. Honesty was his lodestar through all his work, whether in his novels, his adaptations for the stage or his literary criticism (he reviewed fiction regularly for the Independent). On one memorable occasion he fired off a letter to the Independent complaining of a change made to a book review. Not only, he wrote, had the editor altered a word in a well-considered piece of prose, but the word substituted was one the author would never have used. This was not a writer's ego. It was simply that he believed writing was an art to be respected.

Brooks was born in Southampton but for much of his life North Wales was his place of inspiration. It is here that he died, in a remote cottage he shared with his wife, Eleanor, and where, in the earlier part of their life together, they had brought up four children.

After the Second World War, during which he had served in the Navy, and some time scene painting in south London, he settled to writing, supported by the usual part-time jobs, including serving as a waiter. In the early Sixties he produced two best sellers, Jampot Smith and Smith as Hero, but in those innocent days, money did not follow even best-selling success. In 1962 Peter Hall had just launched a rejuvenated Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and Brooks was a natural for the post of literary manager.

Turning his energy to the theatre, he was responsible for a memorable series of adaptations of Russian plays, then largely unknown in Britain. In particular, he was drawn to the work of Maxim Gorky. Plays that are now well known - The Lower Depths, Summerfolk, Enemies - we owe to Brooks's perfectionism. …