SIMON GOUGH, 1942–2018
I’m writing this newsletter to tell you that Simon Gough, our wonderful first author, passed away peacefully on 4 February.
This news fills us with sadness and I want to write primarily to express our sympathy and love to Simon’s wife, Sharon, and Simon’s family and many friends. But I’m also hoping that in this brief letter we can celebrate an extraordinary and gloriously talented man.
Simon was a big part of the inspiration and motivation for setting up Galley Beggar Press. He will always have our gratitude and thanks, both for the fantastic first novel he gave us in the form of The White Goddess: An Encounter, and for helping to set us on the road to everything that followed.
Some of you will have read The White Goddess, and – through it – know something about Simon and his life. For those who haven’t, the book is a (magnificent) semi-autobiographical account of the two summers Simon spent with his grand-uncle, the poet and writer (and twentieth-century titan) Robert Graves, on his island home of Deya, Majorca.
The White Goddess is seductive; it’s a book that’s impossible to pick up without feeling the rays of sun on your face, feeling part of the giddy chaos of a bohemian home, or respectively seduced and horrified by beatnik parties, misbehaviour, glamorous visitors, the grim realities of Franco’s Madrid…
We will always love it – and the energy and explosive joy of the writing, beyond everything, reflect the man we knew in Simon himself. This book, which he spent years perfecting, is a fine testament to his dedication and talent.
When we first met Simon, in 2011, he had been working on this project – first a television script, latterly a novel – for the past twenty-five years. He always said he was writing against death (and the 'sentence’ that had been handed to him after he had been diagnosed with lymphoma). It’s maybe for that reason this book is so bursting with defiance and life. Life that has touched and impressed many readers over the years. I’ll post a few links to the warm and enthusiastic reviews that the book received when it first came out at the end of this letter. But the most important thing is that it's moved a great many readers and brought many people real pleasure since it was first published in 2012. We too were among those readers. It’s a fine book, written by a unique man.
We will always be proud to have worked with Simon, and glad to have known him. He was unforgettable.
Ave atque vale, old friend.
More about Simon
The White Goddess in our store.
An early interview we ran with Simon about the book and editorial. He didn’t exactly enjoy being edited - but he did what it took. (Here’s some rough and ready video I took of editorial in action. Heady days.)
Here you can read more of Simon’s fascinating biography.
An interview with Simon in The Guardian: “I didn’t just bury the past. I buried it alive."
The wonderful first Observer review of Simon's novel.
Another fine review by Max Cairnduff.
And one in The Independent, by no less than Jonathan Gibbs.