In Memoriam Francis King
Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 7th July, 2011
Francis King, who died at the weekend, was my oldest friend and closest confidant. In the 35 years or so that we knew each other we shared not just our views on everything under the sun but also our innermost thoughts and fears. I suppose everyone has someone like that in their lives, or would like to. I first met Francis in Brussels, at the home of my honorary (not blood) grandmother, Edith Bisch, who wrote novels under the pen-name Edith De Born. When I later moved back to England, Francis helped me settle into literary London, particularly through the activities of English PEN, but also at the many lunch and dinner parties that he organised at his house in Kensington, which became a fixture of my social life for three decades. He had an eclectic group of friends and acquaintances and was extraordinarily welcoming to strangers who were visiting London and who had been given his name. He was also unstinting in the time he was prepared to give to reading unsolicited manuscripts — a degree of self-sacrifice that I found incomprehensible. Though a strong supporter of the Conservative Party, Francis was very liberal in most ways: a gentleman of the old school, in the best sense of the term.