The author and playwright Frank White, whose novel There Was a Time was published by Hodder in 2017, has died at the age of 92.
White was rediscovered as an author at the age of 88, having originally published with Hodder back in 1965. The manuscript for his latest 2017-published book was submitted to Jamie Hodder Williams in a brown paper package tied with string, and is one of the last books to have been written about the Second World War by someone who also served in it.
White’s publisher at Hodder, Nick Sayers, said: “We are very sad indeed to hear of Frank’s death and to think that he will not be there to see his new book published next year. I am so proud to have known him and to have worked with him. He wrote with a sparklingly clear prose and he was delightful company, altogether a very special person. I could scarcely believe it in 2016 when a parcel arrived, wrapped in brown paper, containing a typescript and a letter from the author saying we had published his last book 50 years earlier and asking if we would now like to take on his new one! I read it and loved it and it was the start of a relationship I shall always cherish. Our thoughts are with his wife, June, and his five children.”
Born in Manchester in 1927, White volunteered for the wartime Navy and served in the British Pacific Fleet. His older brother, William, was killed at the battle of Mareth in 1943. On returning to civilian life, he was a journalist and then publicity manager for two large companies in Rochdale and Bradford. At this time, he started writing short stories for the radio, plays for the stage and two novels, published by Hodder & Stoughton in the 1960s.
After suffering two severe heart attacks, White took over the tenancy of the Waggon & Horses public house at Oxspring, South Yorkshire. He continued to write, producing plays and entertainment for Barnsley and Scunthorpe councils and a documentary on the First World War for BBC television, and became a writer-in-residence at Lincoln Theatre Royal.
He retired to Lincolnshire in 1986 with his wife June, and in 2013 began writing a novel set in a coastal village in the early days of the Second World War. Hodder became his publisher again in 2017, more than half a century on from publishing his previous novel. Alongside positive review coverage, he also appeared on television to talk about the book.
Hodder is pushing ahead with plans to posthumously publish a novella he wrote only last year, as part of a volume entitled Innocence. It also contains another short novel he wrote in the 1960s, A Morse Code Set, about a boy growing up in Manchester at the outbreak of war. The title will be published in April.