“Meet The Wittiest and SHARPEst Writer”

“There’s nothing worse than an introspective drunk”. Tom Sharpe (The Wilt Alternative, 1979)

Thomas Ridley Sharpe (30 March 1928 – 6 June 2013) was an English satirical novelist, best known for his Wilt series, as well as Porterhouse Blue and Blott on the Landscape, which were both adapted for television.

Wodehouse was clearly a major influence on Sharpe, whose broad, bawdy satires of life behind the curtains and drapes of Britain’s bungalows and stately homes have inspired a devoted following for the best part of 40 years. But he cites his greatest inspiration as the early novels of Evelyn Waugh.

Evelyn Waugh

“When I was 11, I was in the library at my prep school and the Latin master asked me what I was looking for. I said I’d like an amusing book. He said ‘Try this’ and he gave me Waugh’s first book .. .” Tom Sharpe

Sharpe moved to South Africa in 1951, where he worked as a social worker and a teacher, before being deported for sedition in 1961.His time in South Africa inspired the novels “Riotous Assembly” and “Indecent Exposure“, in which he mocks the apartheid regime. After a play he wrote, critical of the regime, was performed in London Sharpe was arrested and deported from South Africa.

“I knew the wrong people,” he explains. “I started off in a finance corporation – they thought I was clever ’cos I’d been to Cambridge, but I wasn’t – then I was working as a teacher, and then I took up photography. I was wandering around townships – I was just showing the misery and horror of apartheid. They burned 36,000 of my negatives.”

Upon returning to England, Sharpe took a position as a history lecturer at the Cambridge College of Arts and Technology, later Anglia Ruskin University, which inspired his Wilt series in which he derides popular English culture.

Anglia Ruskin University

“I don’t consider myself bald, I’m just taller than my hair”. Tom Sharpe

“The man who said the pen was mightier than the sword ought to have tried reading ‘The Mill on the Floss to Motor Mechanics”. Tom Sharpe (Wilt, 1976)

“Tom Sharpe was Witty, often outrageous, always acutely funny about the absurdities of life”. Susan Sandon

“Sharpe’s humorous techniques naturally derive from his fundamental approach, which is that of the furious farceur who compounds anger and amusement.” and “His dialogue is deft and more restrained than his characterization, which sometimes is mere caricature…” Leonard R. N. Ashley in the Encyclopedia of British Humorists

Wilt is a comedic novel by the author Tom Sharpe, first published by Secker and Warburg in 1976.

The novel’s title refers to its main character, Henry Wilt. Wilt is a demoralized and professionally under-rated assistant lecturer who teaches literature to uninterested construction apprentices at a community college in the south of England. Years of hen-pecking and harassment by his physically powerful but emotionally immature wife Eva leave Henry Wilt with dreams of killing her in various gruesome ways. But a string of unfortunate events (including one involving an inflatable plastic female doll) start the title character on a farcical journey. Along the way he finds humiliation and chaos, which ultimately lead him to discover his own strengths and some level of dignity. And all the while he is pursued by the tenacious police inspector Flint, whose plodding skills of detection and deduction interpret Wilt’s often bizarre actions as heinous crimes.

Wilt series: Wilt (1976) – The Wilt Alternative (1979) – Wilt On High (1984) – Wilt in Triplicate (omnibus) (1996) – Wilt in Nowhere (2004)

“The Tom Sharpe I knew was generous, acerbic, engaging, and full of wicked fun.” Robert McCrum

Other Sharpe novels: Riotous Assembly (1971) – Indecent Exposure (1973) – Blott on the Landscape (1975) – The Great Pursuit (1977) – The Throwback (1978) – Ancestral Vices (1980) – Vintage Stuff (1982) – The Midden (1996) – The Gropes (2009) – The Wilt Inheritance (2010)

Blott on the Landscape was adapted by BBC TV in 1985 and broadcast in six episodes of 50 minutes each. It was scripted by Malcolm Bradbury. Sir Giles Lynchwood was played by George Cole, with Geraldine James as Lady Maud and David Suchet as Blott.

In 1987, Porterhouse Blue was adapted for television, again by Bradbury, for Channel 4 in four episodes. It starred David Jason as Skullion and Ian Richardson as Sir Godber Evans.

Indecent Exposure

Riotous Assembly

Meet another Sharpe

Karen Sharpe-Kramer (born September 20, 1934), is an American former actress of film and television, who appeared on screen from 1952 to 1966.

Karen Sharpe As Barbara Bosley in “The Night of the Flaming Ghost”

“I’m not a great writer, for God’s sake. I’m just a fool.” Tom Sharpe

Its a beautiful world we live in
A sweet romantic place
Beautiful people everywhere
The way they show they care
Makes me want to say

Its a beautiful world
Its a beautiful world
Its a beautiful world
For you, for you, for you


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