My choice for today’s Forgotten Book is a labour of love conceived by John Walsdorf as a tribute to Julian Symons, the crime novelist and critic whom he admired so much. I wrote about Walsdorf’s epic bibliography of Symons’ work a while ago, and thanks to the wonders of the internet, I was contacted via Facebook by John Walsdorf’s son, who promptly put me in touch with his father – who has proved a very interesting correspondent. Making these connections wouldn’t have been possible (or at least, not without great difficulty) a few years ago
John and Kathleen Symons, Julian’s widow, gathered tributes from a wide range of notable writers who knew and admired Julian. Julian Symons Remembered contains some great stories – for instance, I liked Susan Moody’s piece, recording that he hated to be described as a ‘doyen’. The respect in which the man was held shines through the pages.
Reg Hill says: ‘I wish I’d read Playing Happy Families before Julian died so that I could have added my voice to the many telling him how marvellous it was.’ A verdict on a fine book with which I fully agree. Michael Gilbert’s essay concludes: ‘He was, quite simply, a great man. Poet, historian, novelist, critic and Father of the British crime story. When shall we see his like again?’
High praise, but well merited. This is a splendid book, sadly little known and very hard to find, but it does not deserve to be forgotten, just as Julian Symons should never be forgotten by those who love the genre.