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Thursday, 4 September 2014

David St John Thomas – R.I.P.

The latest issue of the UK magazine Writers’ News has announced the death of David St John Thomas, a few weeks short of his 85th birthday.

He was the founder of Writers’ News and the publisher David & Charles.

Years ago, I’d been in touch by letter a couple of times and of course kept up to date with his regular monthly column in Writers’ News. He was a true professional, courteous and always helpful to aspiring writers, happy to pass on his considerable experience.

Writers’ News began life as one of his projects in retirement after he sold David & Charles. He set up the David St Thomas Charitable Trust which offers a wide range of prizes for writers.

In his penultimate article in the magazine (October 2014), he talks about his writing factual articles and regales us with his experience and his links with Southampton, from where he would board Cunard liners and give lectures. I specifically wrote ‘talk’ because that’s how he always came across in his DT Column – a chat between him and you, the reader.

He sold many a book during his lecture sessions – and he was indeed prolific. Perhaps a moral can be gleaned from the fact that he always seemed to carry a copy of his latest book – ‘the other day I made a sale on Bath station waiting for a train to Plymouth to an American who asked what I did, and said that they were avid book readers.’

He died quietly in his sleep on 18 August while on one of his P&O cruises.

I’m sure I won’t be alone in offering commiserations to his wife Sheila and his family, as his life touched so many writers.

The editor, Jonathan Telfer, will publish a full tribute in the next issue of Writing Magazine. (Writers' News is a separate magazine found inside this one.)

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