David Charles Manners
|David Charles Manners|
David Charles Manners is a British writer, a representative for the charity Diversity Role Models, and the co-founder of Sarvashubhamkara, a charity that provides medical care, education and human contact to socially excluded individuals and communities on the Indian subcontinent, most of whom are affected by the stigma of leprosy.
Education and Career
David had an eclectic education in Epsom, Lichfield, Paris, Frankfurt, London, Bath and Stockholm. A childhood fascination with languages led him to study to varying degrees French, Swedish, German, Italian, Finnish, Brazilian Portuguese, Hindi, Nepali, Latin and Ancient Greek, leading Judith Mackrell to describe David as "a remarkable polyglot".
In his twenties, he worked as a theatre designer, primarily with Adventures in Motion Pictures, for which he was also commissioned to compose original instrumental work. His designs included Matthew Bourne's Infernal Galop (1989; revived 1992), Deadly Serious (1992), The Percys of Fitzrovia (1992) and Drip (BBC's Dance for the Camera, 1993). 2012 saw Infernal Galop revived by Bourne's New Adventures, as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of the founding of his companies.
"David influenced a lot of AMP work throughout those years, because he had so many interests," says Matthew Bourne. "He was someone that I could definitely develop ideas with, that I could talk to about what I should do next ... Certainly David was an important influence throughout those years."
Awarded a Music degree from Newton Park College, Bath, David went on to train in Physical Medicine and subsequently worked for thirteen years as Physical Therapist with musicians, conductors and singers at Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He is an initiate of an Eastern Himalayan tantric tradition, in which he has led introductory courses at Glyndebourne, English National Opera, for the Jerwood Young Artists’ Programme, and in several regions of India.
A contributor to various journals, his first book, the bestselling In the Shadow of Crows, was published in 2009 by Reportage Press, with a percentage of the publisher's profits from its sale dedicated to the work of Sarvashubhamkara amongst the ostracised in India. A second edition, published by Signal Books, was released in August 2011 for distribution in Britain, North America and India.
In a return to the theatre, David was invited to create prose and poetry on which choreographer Ben Wright, composer Alan Stones and projection artist Dick Straker based a new theatre production with the contemporary dance company Bgroup. The Lessening of Difference made a national British tour through the winter of 2011.
In the Shadow of Crows: Synopsis
In the Shadow of Crows recounts the passage of two journeys through India driven by loss, and an unlikely, remarkable friendship.
Bindra, widowed granddaughter of a mountain bojudeuta shaman and mother of four children, contracts leprosy. She is violently driven from her mountain home and is forced to travel across the Plains in search of a place of safety, where she might one day reunite her family.
David is raised in Surrey speaking ‘kitchen Urdu’ and with a childhood imagination entirely consumed by a fantasy life in India, a country in which he has never once stepped. Not until he finds himself lost and isolated as a result of calamitous events is he driven to uncover the true history of his non-British roots in the foothills of the Himalaya.
And when he eventually walks into a cruelly mistreated leprosy colony and meets an elderly woman called Bindra, both their lives are transformed.
In the Shadow of Crows: Reception
Radio journalists initially took up In the Shadow of Crows, with Nikki Bedi on the BBC Asian Network broadcasting, "I learnt so much from this book … it shows a great depth of understanding". Rhod Sharp on BBC Five Live thought it "wonderful philosophy". Wojtek Gwiazda, on Radio Canada International's ‘Masala Canada’, considered it an account of "two fascinating stories."
Line Boily reviewed the book on the French language Radio-Canada as "Une histoire ... écrit avec une candeur et honnêteté rare ... une histoire très touchante ... un livre que j'ai lu avec beaucoup, beaucoup d'intêret."
Montreal's Westmount Examiner and The Monitor newspapers published the following review by Bureau Chief Toula Fosclos: "'In the Shadows of the Crows' teaches us that there’s hope in the horror of daily life. There’s affirmation of good in the ghastly. Life is both better and worse than we ever imagined it to be and Manners is an inspirational, thoughtful, and compassionate writer, softly reminding us all of our common humanity and whispering to us that our life’s purpose should be to take care of one another. No matter our circumstances, we all live our lives in the shadow of death, but it’s the leaning into the light that makes the brief time we spend on earth hold any meaning at all ..."
Bill Richardson, author and broadcaster on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, has written, "David Charles Manners is an inspiring writer and speaker ... Intelligent and generous, cosmopolitan and compassionate, and an unrepentant polyglot and xenophile, Mr. Manners has led and is leading a big life. Disinclined to squander opportunity, his appetite for experience, as well as his humour and big-heartedness, are palpable on every page of In the Shadow of Crows. Having spent the better part of a quarter century interviewing people, mostly for CBC Radio, I have been on the fortunate receiving end of many, many personal and remarkable stories, and his is one I will always remember. Read him. Meet him. It will be time well spent."
Gilda O'Neill, novelist and author of the Sunday Times Best Seller My East End, described In the Shadow of Crows as "A journey into another world that tells a story which is at once accomplished, intriguing and moving."
Professor Dhirendra Sharma, Editor of Philosophy & Social Action and Convener of Concerned Scientists & Philosophers, India, reviewed it as "A volume to provoke true soul-searching … a must read."
Indian writer Chandralekha Mehta, niece of Jawaharlal Nehru and author of Freedom’s Child, wrote that In the Shadow of Crows "highlights with compassion an Indo-British connection that has always been swept out of sight."
The Lessening of Difference: Reception
Judith Mackrell of The Guardian considered it "a delightful package, entertaining and well executed" and that Manners' love poems were "an essential part of its charm." Sarah Wilkinson of The Stage referred to "Manners’ exquisite writing". The Western Morning News called it "an intense, beautiful piece of theatre."
Limitless Sky: Synopsis
When a young Englishman from a conservative religious background meets a Nepalese shaman, a jhankri, whilst visiting his Anglo-Indian relatives in the Bengal Himalaya, it is the start of an extraordinary adventure of self-discovery. The jhankri invites David to be his student and, over the coming years, leads him through a series of challenging initiations into an ancient tantric mountain tradition. More inspiring, rewarding and life-affirming than anything he could have imagined, these initiations ultimately help him confront, not only his own personal demons, but the fearful uncertainty of a simmering political situation and the shocking, sudden death of a loved one.
In this remarkable story, David shares the wisdoms gained from his transformative days in the mountains. From learning how to let go of his own self-loathing and traumatic past experiences, to dismantling the common misconceptions around Tantra and Yoga, David is taken on a journey that teaches him how to live his life fully without fear and pre-judgement. With an emphasis on practical philosophy rather than mysticism, he realises that these life lessons – this gift – could benefit everyone and teach us all how to make positive, personal changes to our lives, and the lives of others.
Limitless Sky: Reception
“A stunning book, which I found enthralling ... a journey so vividly expressed and so seductive that the reader takes it all in easily and hungrily. Above all, I love the bravery, curiosity and honesty that streams from this immense adventure … A really remarkable and compelling book, full of wisdom, humour and beauty.” – Joanna Lumley
"A thoughtful and strange and often startling account of going deeper than most Westerners do into the Nepalese tradition and philosophy ... wonderful descriptions …" - Libby Purves, Midweek, BBC Radio 4 
“An inspirational, intimate journey that encourages the reader to self-reflect in a remarkable and unexpected way, and thereby to better understand himself ... This is a unique and enlightening story of great courage that will echo for a lifetime.” – CBC Radio Canada
- "In the Shadow of Crows"=2009, Reportage Press
- Gardner, Lyn; Cook, Mark; Mackrell, Judith (25 November 2011). "This week's new theatre and dance". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
- Template:Dancing Times=26 October 2011
- Macaulay, Alastair (ed.) (1999). Matthew Bourne and His Adventures in Motion Pictures: In Conversation with Alastair Macaulay. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-19706-X.
- Pugliaro, Georgio; Silvana Ottolenghi (1993). Opera '93 - Annuario dell=opera lirica in Italia (in Italian). Torino, Italy: EDT. p. 396. ISBN 88-7063-182-6.
- Fosclos, Toula (28 July 2010). Westmount Examiner. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Transcontinental Media Group.
- Mackrell, Judith (27 November 2011). "BGroup – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
- Wilkinson, Sarah (29 November 2011). "The Lessening of Difference". The Stag. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
- Rider Books Press Release, April 2014
- David Charles Manners, In the Shadow of Crows: Reportage Press, 2009. ISBN 1-906702-06-3; ISBN 978-1-906702-06-9.
- David Charles Manners, In the Shadow of Crows: Signal Books, 2011. ISBN 1-904955-92-4.
- David Charles Manners, Limitless Sky: Rider Books/Random House, 2014. ISBN 978-1846044458.