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Last Word
Listen to the latest editionFriday   16:00-16:30
Sunday 20:30-21:00 (rpt)

Radio 4's weekly obituaries programme
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This week
Friday 16th November 2007
(Rpt) Sunday 18th November 
Matthew Bannister
Matthew Bannister tells the life stories of people who have died recently. This week: Norman Mailer, Duncan Williamson, Diana Allen and the Right Rev. Graham Chadwick.
Norman Mailer
Writer and novelist who has died aged 84

Norman Mailer was as well known for his life as for his art. The American novelist was married six times, launched both verbal and physical attacks on his fellow writers and, in 1960, was briefly confined to a psychiatric hospital after stabbing his second wife. His macho attitude attracted the wrath of the feminist movement, leading to a celebrated debate with Germaine Greer at New York Town Hall in 1971. Mailer was a passionate lover of boxing – he often used analogies from the sport in his writing – and saw it as a metaphor for life. He was born in New Jersey and brought up in a lower middle class Jewish family in Brooklyn. His father was an accountant and his mother ran her own oil delivery firm. It was whilst studying aeronautical engineering at Harvard that Mailer discovered a passion for literature.

Matthew Bannister talks to Christopher Bigsby, Professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia and and to his widow Norris Church Mailer.

Norman Mailer was born on January 31st 1923 and died on November 10th 2007.
Duncan Williamson
Ballad singer and storyteller who has died aged 79

Duncan Williamson was one of the greatest Scottish traditional ballad singers and storytellers. He claimed to know three thousand different songs and stories, many of them passed on to him from the family of travellers into which he was born. After leaving school aged fourteen, Duncan took to the road, earning a living from working on farms and dealing in horses, picking up songs and stories wherever he went. In the 1960s, academics recording the traditional songs and stories of Scotland made tapes of Duncan. He went on to appear at traditional musical and cultural events around the world and produced a number of books about traveller life and lore.

Matthew Bannister speaks to Amy Douglas who learned the art of storytelling from Duncan Williamson and Donald Smith, Director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh.

Duncan Williamson was born April 11th 1928 and died November 8th 2007.
Diana Allen
Lawyer and campaigner for Gypsies' rights who has died aged 91

Diana Allen devoted much of her life to campaigning for the rights of travellers in the UK and eventually trained as a lawyer in her sixties so she could pursue their cases through the courts.

Diana was born in Weston Super Mare and graduated in English from Oxford University in 1938. She began working with the Co-ordinating Committee for Refugees to help Jewish nurses escape from Germany and Czechoslovakia. She married a civil servant called Robert Allen and they moved to a large Victorian house at Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire. As their fourth child was reaching adulthood, Diana began to take an interest in the plight of gypsy families in the area.

Matthew Bannister talks to Katherine Murray, Diana Allen’s daughter and solicitor Jeremy Brown.

Diana Allen was born February 12th 1916 and died on October 30th 2007.
The Right Reverend Graham Chadwick
Bishop who has died aged 84

When Bishop Graham Chadwick was deported from South Africa in 1982, a reported fifty thousand people turned up at the airport to bid him farewell. The outspoken critic of the apartheid regime was a much-loved Bishop of Kimberley and Kuruman, a large and mainly rural diocese. In 1981 he was exiled from his diocese and went to live in a so-called African homeland. On Easter Day of the following year he made one final visit to Kimberley Cathedral where he preached in Sesotho, Tsechwana and Africaans before being escorted to the airport with his family.

Graham Chadwick was born in mid Wales where his father was a railway signalman. He attended Swansea Grammar School but left with few academic qualifications. During the war he served with the Royal Navy which spotted his linguistic abilities and sent him to learn Japanese before posting him to the Pacific. He eventually mastered eleven languages. His love affair with Africa began when the Bishop of Basutoland, now Lesotho, invited him to undertake missionary work. On his return from Africa, Bishop Graham devoted himself to teaching people about spiritual life. He was an adviser at St Asaph Cathedral, an assistant bishop in the Liverpool diocese and latterly Director of Spirituality at Sarum College in Salisbury.

Matthew Bannister talks to Archbishop Desmond Tutu who became a close friend and Peter Tyler his successor to the post of Director of Spirituality at Sarum College.

Graham Chadwick was born was born on January 3rd l923 and died on October 28th 2007.
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