Derek Tangye: The Cornish Gardener

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John McCarthy explores the fascinating life of British author Derek Tangye and reveals a remarkable and enigmatic portrait of this influential writer.

From his home in the West Country popular writer Derek Tangye penned a score of books collectively known as 'The Minack Chronicles'.

The stories illustrate the anomalous lives Derek and his wife Jeannie led when, in the 1950's, they abandoned their sophisticated metropolitan lifestyle to live in isolation working a cliff top daffodil farm with their beloved animals in the farthest reaches of Cornwall.

As McCarthy travels to the area surrounding Minack, the main inspiration for Tangye' work, he explores the world of a writer whose literary triumphs mask a mysterious and complex life. His descriptions in the books of the 'glorious anthem' of a cat's purr and the 'sweet moment when a long-awaited harvest awakes' provide an atmospheric backdrop to the captivating discoveries and secrets of his life.

Derek Tangye was educated at Harrow and subsequently worked as a journalist. During the war he was a member of MI5 and throughout his days at Minack was a neighbour of novelist John Le Carre.

Tangye died in 1996 and a few years later a national newspaper ran a story suggesting dubious activities during his secret service days.

An audio project produced for Tangye’s centenary and notes for a final book allow a useful insight into his life and work and provide interesting theories into the couple’s motivation to discard glamour to live in a neglected cottage.

Speaking with the Tangye's inner circle, his followers and experts in spy history, McCarthy attempts to uncover some of the mysteries and unanswered questions surrounding the author.

After recent renewed interest in the anthologies he will discuss the impact and merits of the Minack Chronicles and review their contribution to literature.

Readings by David Kay, Chris Chambers from Another Way Theatre, and Stephen Garner.

Written and Produced in Salford by Stephen Garner

Available now

30 minutes

Last on

Thu 24 Apr 2014 11:30
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