David Gemmell

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David Andrew Gemmell (1 August 1948 – 28 July 2006) was a bestselling British author of heroic fantasy. A former journalist and newspaper editor, Gemmell had his first work of fiction published in 1984. He went on to write over thirty novels. Best known for his debut, Legend, Gemmell's works display violence, yet also explore themes of honour, loyalty and redemption. With over one million copies sold, his work continues to sell worldwide.


Early life

David Gemmell was born in 1948 in west London. Raised alone by his mother until the age of six, he experienced a harsh upbringing in a tough urban area, suffering bullying and taunts from his peers, partly due to the absence of his father,[1] and often sustained serious injuries through fighting. Preferring reading books to fighting, he was compelled to take up boxing by his stepfather, who insisted he learn how to stand up for himself without "hiding behind walls or running away", this philosophy informing much of Gemmell's later writing.[2] As a child, he said he "would have given anything" to stand beside King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings. As a teenager, he wanted to stand with Marshal Will Kane in the film High Noon.[3] He was expelled from school at the age of sixteen for organizing a gambling syndicate and as a youth was arrested several times. He claimed that one psychologist's report at the time labelled him a psychopath.[4] Gemmell went on to work as a labourer, a lorry-driver's mate and a nightclub bouncer, before his mother set up a job interview with a local newspaper. Of 100 applicants, he was probably the least qualified for the position, but was hired owing to his display of arrogance during the interview, which was mistaken for self-confidence. He went on to work as a journalist for several local newspapers in East Sussex, eventually becoming editor-in-chief for five.[5] He also worked freelance as a stringer for the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, and Daily Express national newspapers.[4][6] Coming from a staunch socialist family, Gemmell carried banners and campaigned for eventual Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the 1960s, nevertheless admitting a grudging alignment with Thatcherite policies on issues of foreign policy, especially the Falklands Conflict,[2] and with Reaganite views on East-West relations.[3] Gemmell married twice; his first marriage produced two children, before he met his second wife, Stella.[7] The couple made their home in Hastings on the south-east coast of England until the author's death.[6]

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