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Mary Renault a Biography

David Sweetman

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ISBN 10: 0701135689 / ISBN 13: 9780701135683
Published by Trafalgar Square, 1993
Condition: Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Mary Renault a Biography

Publisher: Trafalgar Square

Publication Date: 1993

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Good

Edition: 1st Edition.

About this title


In her novels "The Last of the Wine", "The Bull from the Sea" and "The Persian Boy", Mary Renault wrote so frankly about homosexuality that some readers thought she must be a man. In fact Renault was the pseudonym for Mary Challans, a remarkable and private woman. Born in London, she spent most of her life in South Africa. She began as a bookish, withdrawn child and became a standard bearer for the sexual revolution. She abandoned the academic world for nursing and when she won an MGM award she embarked for South Africa wih her friend and lifelong companion, Julie Mullard. She never returned. This is her biography.

About the Author:

David Robert Sweetman was a writer and television director.

David Sweetman had the continuing ability both radically to change course in his career and always to keep a firm hand on the tiller. After teaching, he worked in broadcasting, first on radio, then in television. He was a poet who wrote his many prose books with skill and determination, tireless in research, never missing a deadline. He was a regular book reviewer in the early days of The Independent on Sunday. He travelled widely and energetically in Africa, Europe and the Far East. He was wholly dedicated to his work, as he was to his friends.

Born in Northumberland in 1943, from 1960 to 1965 he studied Fine Art at King's College, Newcastle on a scholarship. As a student, he took part in and often initiated satirical entertainments and social activities with gusto and enthusiasm.

However, he did not pursue a career as an artist. He felt (objectivity was one of his strengths) that he was not quite good enough. Instead, he went to Africa to teach English and to write, first in Uganda and then in Tunisia.

His writing of another kind began during his 10 years in Africa. Every Sunday morning he would write poetry, a self-imposed discipline which resulted in a number of his poems being published in journals such as Encounter, the Listener, the New Statesman, Quarto and The Times Literary Supplement.

Once back in London in 1969, Sweetman lectured in art history at Hackney Technical College.  In 1976, Sweetman met a young Thai student, Vatcharin Bhumitchitr, who was studying design at the London College of Printing. They lived together, and made their various homes elegant and welcoming.

His Africa experience led him naturally to the BBC Africa Service, where he produced drama and features.There he was spotted by BBC Television and was invited to take a two-week course in television directing. Thus he became a television arts director, making programmes on architecture (with Roderick Gradidge), on design (with Stephen Bayley) and on ballet (with Anton Dolin and Wayne Sleep). A number of Sweetman's programmes were shown on Omnibus, but when changes were made at the BBC which Sweetman found unacceptable he resigned to become a full-time writer.

Sweetman and Bhumitchitr worked together on cookbooks, notably Bhumitchitr's The Taste of Thailand (1988) and Vatch's Southeast Asian Cookbook (1997). They bought a house in the Pas de Calais and spent four years restoring it, converting the barn into an artist's studio where Bhumitchitr does his painting.

In early 2000, Sweetman was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy, a rare degenerative condition which affects the autonomic nervous system. Sweetman's decline was rapid and irreversible. Yet he sustained his illness with his customary courage and never lost his sense of humour.

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