To write books. Just words. So that afterwards the reader would feel, yes, that it had all happened to him and to her. Then each book would no longer belong to me but belong to them too and they would, with even more than my own small determination, fight for it and protect it because it was for ever theirs now.
John Summers was one of the great writers of the 20th century, and a unique voice in Welsh literature. He was a journalist and the author of four wonderful novels and three books of travel-writing.
John Summers, The Raging Summer (1972)
In 1966, as a journalist working for the Sunday Telegraph he was sent to report on the Aberfan disaster. His experience of the tragedy itself, and his relentless campaign to uncover the shabby treatment meted out by officialdom to the survivors and bereaved, formed the basis of his first novel, Edge of Violence.
Despite attempts to suppress its publication, the book emerged as a modern classic, selling in large numbers. It attracted a great deal of media coverage, including a famous interview by Joan Bakewell on Late Night Line-Up, and widespread praise: ĎItís a very fine novel, and if it isnít still in print it should be, because it isnít only a story of that time but of all times,í wrote Alan Sillitoe in 2002. ĎI canít tell you how impressed I am, and above all thankful that Iíve been able to read it.í
Subsequent books included Dylan, The Rag Parade, The Red and the Black and Ė perhaps his masterpiece Ė The Raging Summer, a fictionalised account of his childhood in the Valleys of the 1930s.
This website was founded in the aftermath of Johnís death on 20 August 2008 to celebrate his extraordinary life and works. At present it contains a disproportionate quantity of my own comments, but that will be remedied as other material is added over the coming weeks and months (particularly the words of John himself).
Similarly, as is inevitable at this early stage, there are gaps, missing bits of information, mistakes Ė please bear with me while I develop the site.
If you have anything related to John that you would like to share, or if you wish to get in touch for any other reason, please write to me: alwyn at alwynwturner dot com.
And, of course, if you happen to be a publisher and would be interested in republishing some of John's work...
Alwyn W Turner
27 August 2008