17 January 1925 – 2 November 2000
Chris Kloet writes…
My first encounter with Robert Cormier’s books was in the early 1980s when I worked as a comprehensive school librarian in northern England. I remember the excitement that the pupils and I felt, on reading the recently published The Chocolate War. Here was an innovative, controversial and uncompromising writer who, his young readers recognised, was on their side – one who fearlessly ‘told it like it was’. I was fortunate in 1984 to become Bob’s UK editor at Victor Gollancz Ltd and subsequently had the joy of meeting him regularly, most recently in July, and the privilege of working with him on nine of his books. Those qualities which characterised The Chocolate War informed his subsequent writings and shone through the man himself. A former ‘human interest’ journalist, he retained his curiosity about people, as well as a certain investigative spirit, and a lean writing style. He never moved away from the town where he was born, Leominster, Massachusetts. This became Monument, the fictional setting for all his novels; yet his small-town characters have universal resonance. Translated into many languages, Robert Cormier’s books continue to speak directly to young people everywhere. The world of ‘young adult’ literature has lost one of its most challenging writers, and I have lost a warm friend.