- WESTALL, Robert (Atkinson)
- (1929-1993)UK author, art teacher (1960-85) and antique shop proprietor. Until near the end of his life his work was mostly for older children. His debut novel, The Machine-Gunners (1976), which formed the basis of the play The Machine-Gunners (1986) and won the Carnegie Medal, is a realist tale set during the war he described in his nonfiction Children of the Blitz: Memories of Wartime Childhood (1985); the novel's sequel was FathomFive (1979).His second novel The Wind Eye introduced supernatural forces (in the form of St Cuthbert), and these recur often in novels such as The Watch House (1977), Ghost Abbey (1988), Old Man on a Horse (1989 chap) and The Promise (1990), and in many stories in his collections Break of Dark (coll 1982), The Haunting of Chas McGill and Other Stories (coll 1983 US), Rachel and the Angel and Other Stories (coll 1986), Ghost and Journeys (coll 1988), The Call and Other Stories (coll 1989), Echoes of War (coll 1989), A Walk on the Wild Side: Cat Stories (coll 1989), The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral (coll 1991), The Fearful Lovers (coll 1992; vt Fearful Lovers 1993), plus two retrospective assemblies, Demons and Shadows; The Ghostly Best Stories of Robert Westall (coll 1993 US) and Shades of Darkness: More of the Ghostly Best of Robert Westall (coll 1994 US). RW also published a fine collection of ghost stories for adults, Antique Dust: Ghost Stories (coll 1989), in which a certain primness only adds ahorrific reticence to the resonances of M.R. James (1862-1936). He ed Ghost Stories (anth 1988).RW, who by the 1980s had established aconsiderable reputation and went on garnering awards, wrote only one pure sf novel, Futuretrack 5 (1983), set in a conformist future that lobotomizes individualists. This was good, but better was the earlier TIME-TRAVEL fantasy The Devil on the Road (1978), where a young bikerfinds himself confronting Witchfinder Hopkins in the 17th century. The Cats of Seroster (1984) is, unusually for RW, SWORD AND SORCERY, set in animaginary medieval world. Urn Burial (1987) hovers between sf and horror in its tale of the awakening of long-dormant aliens.PNOther works: The Scarecrows (1981); The Creatures in the House (1983); Blitzcat (1989); The Kingdom by the Sea (1990); Stormsearch (1990), not fantasy; Yaxley's Cat (1991); The Christmas Ghost (1992 chap); some books for younger children.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.
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