Rohan O'Grady

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Rohan O'Grady (July 23, 1922 – March 17, 2014) is the pen name of the Canadian novelist June O'Grady Skinner.[1]

Writing history[edit]

Between 1961 and 1970, Skinner published four novels as Rohan O'Grady. Her fifth and final work, The May Spoon, was released in 1981 and credited to A. Carleon[2] (Ann Carleon is the name of Skinner's great-grandmother). Her third book, Let's Kill Uncle, was her most successful and was made into a movie by the legendary horror-film producer William Castle in 1966, starring Nigel Green, Mary Badham, Pat Cardi and Robert Pickering. First editions of Skinner's second book, Pippin's Journal, are prized by collectors for their illustrations by Edward Gorey.

After nearly three decades of relative obscurity, Skinner returned to public attention as the subject of a January 2009 feature in The Believer, the monthly literary magazine published by McSweeney's. In the piece, "A Certain Kind of Murder," author Theo Schell-Lambert writes of his childhood encounter with Let's Kill Uncle and his search for its mysterious author.[3] Following the Believer article, the Vancouver Courier and the North Shore News ran pieces on Skinner and her reemergence.[4][5] Like Shell-Lambert, The Guardian political cartoonist, Martin Rowson, was deeply affected by his childhood reading of Let's Kill Uncle and credits the book for changing his life and influencing his choice of career.[6]

As a result of the Believer article, Let's Kill Uncle was reprinted by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2010 with an endorsement from Donna Tartt; it was released the following year in the United States.[7] The 2014 Spanish edition, Matemos al tio,[8] features a reproduction of the original cover by Edward Gorey.

Skinner's books, which are often set in her native British Columbia, are characterized by a strong gothic streak and a tendency to dismiss genre conventions. For example, though she commonly features adolescent protagonists, she subjects them to both emotional intensity and physical violence rarely found in "young adult" novels. This has been attributed in part to Skinner's independence from the larger literary culture. She did not publish her first book until she was nearly 40, and she did her writing alone in suburban West Vancouver while raising three children.

A popular metal band from Perth, Australia, named itself Let's Kill Uncle after the movie, and British singer-songwriter, Morrissey, was also inspired by the film to name his 1991 solo album, Kill Uncle.[9][10]

Bibliography[edit]

  • O’Houlihan’s Jest MacMillan, New York 1961. Gollancz, London, 1961.
  • Pippin’s Journal; Or, Rosemary Is for Remembrance MacMillan, New York, 1962. Gollancz, London, 1962. (Also published as The Curse of the Montrolfes and The Master of Montrolfe Hall.)
  • Let’s Kill Uncle MacMillan, New York, 1963. Longmans, London, 1964.
  • Bleak November Dial Press, New York, 1970. Michael Joseph, London, 1971.
  • The May Spoon Beaufort, New York, 1981. Methuen, London, 1984. (As A. Carleon.)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "June Margaret nee O'Grady Skinner". Pacific Newspaper Group. The Vancouver Sun. 22 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 
  2. ^ ABCBookworld, "O'Grady, Rohan"
  3. ^ The Believer, "A Certain Kind of Murder," January 2009
  4. ^ Vancouver Courier, "The Curse of Canlit," 13 February 2009
  5. ^ North Shore News, "In pursuit of Rohan O'Grady," 15 February 2009
  6. ^ The Guardian, "Let's Kill Uncle drew me into a deliciously horrible adult world," 7 August 2013
  7. ^ Wall Street Journal, "In Brief: Let's Kill Uncle," 2 April 2011.
  8. ^ Matemos al tío
  9. ^ X-Press Magazine, "Let's Kill Uncle," 3 April 2014.
  10. ^ Simon Goddard, Mozipedia: The Encycolpaedia of Morrissey and the Smiths, Random House (2012), 209.