Mary's musings

Mary Hoffman, author of over 90 children's books, including the Stravaganza series and Amazing Grace, has begun a web journal which will be updated roughly once a week. You can read more on

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Lovely Man

This will be all about my dear friend, Douglas Hill, who was killed by a bus, on a zebra crossing on 21st June.

We were expecting him here for lunch on 27th, to celebrate Jess's birthday. She chose him to be her godfather when she was fifteen and, although neither of them believed in God, they had a perfect relationship for ten years. We heard on Sunday morning and the shock reverberated for days. Surely we would see him on Wednesday - hadn't we got the menu all planned?

Douglas was the person who read Rhiannon's first full-length novel, Hex and wrote to Marion Lloyd at Macmillan saying you have to read this. Macmillan published it and its two sequels, giving her a two-book contract while she was still at university, aged 19. Both Marion and Rhiannon were at Douglas's funeral on Friday. Jess read Louis MacNeice's Sunlight on the Garden. And Bex also came, ewvn though she had got back from St Petersburg only at 11pm the night before and didn't know he had died till then.

He was as kind to my three daughters as he was to everyone. The chapel at the crematorium was full of family and friends, some very young, who all wanted to say a proper goodbye, And then there was a wake at a Turkish restaurant belonging to a family member. Douglas had left instructions that he didn't want his funeral to be a mournful occasion, rather "a booze-up."

He had more or less finished his new trilogy for Macmillan, which had given him so much pleasure and satisfaction and was poised for a bit of a comeback, as M.J.Mourne. If only he would come back, as M.J. or anything else. We will miss his outrageous compliments, his soft Canadian accent, the wicked twinkle in his eye, his love of good coffee, chocolate, dragons, cats. I'm so sorry he didn't meet our three new Burmeses - he would have loved them and they him.
If there is any form of afterlife I hope he and Kate Petty are having a good time there, over a glass or two of nectar.



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