Nicky Singer has died, aged 66. Notice in The Bookseller here. Nicky may not be familiar to most readers of CBe books because, after four novels for adults, she wrote mostly for the readership that publishers term ‘YA’. Her CBe title, Knight Crew, is categorised as a YA book but it got to me, and made me cry, and is serious and strong. She wrote the books that she had to write – latterly, about climate change, migrants, borders, refugees – and when publishers made offers on condition that she change the ending, or simplify her language, she refused their conditions and found other ways of getting her books into the world. She was fierce and dedicated and tireless and had a wonderful laugh and was immensely generous. And she wrote good books.
Knight Crew was performed as an opera at Glyndebourne; Island was performed on stage at the National Theatre. Her website includes terrific pieces on prison-visiting while writing Knight Crew and on money and books as ‘market commodities’. Below, the day copies of Knight Crew were delivered in 2009; the carrying man is Anthony Thwaite (1930–2021), who had the bad luck to arrive at the house (to talk about the copy-editing of one of his Larkin books for Faber) at the same time as the delivery. Copies of Knight Crew are still available from the website; or email me directly with a post address and I’ll send for free.
I was going to write this newsletter about CBe’s publishing programme for this year and early next, but that will have to wait.