Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Hero / Sebastian Walker by Julie Myerson

Sebastian Walker

My Hero Sebastian Walker

Julie Myerson
Sat 16 Jan 2010

started working as Walker Books' publicist in 1988. Less than a month into the job – not great timing – I found I was pregnant. But Sebastian's face lit up. "My dear, I'll start a nursery. You can bring the baby into work with you!"

Sebastian started Walker Books because he wanted to make beautiful and exciting books for children, so it was funny and touching that he knew so little about babies. He imagined the nursery could just be a line of carrycots – until someone reminded him that children tend to grow. But his generosity and imagination were entirely genuine. Just like the lunches we all ate together, the Walker nursery was absolutely free.
Sebastian's vision and energy were unique and infectious. He cared deeply about music, art, authors, artists. He cared about his staff. Late one night, he walked around putting a memo on every desk which declared that from now on, Walker Books would be a cigarette-free zone. Such an impulse was way ahead of its time, but quite simply he didn't want his friends and colleagues to die.
When Sebastian discovered he was terminally ill, he ensured the company couldn't be taken over, by giving it to its authors, artists and staff. He quipped to me that it was just "in case I go under the proverbial bus", and I remember laughing because no person I knew seemed more alive, more present, less likely to die.
I was too shy of him ever to know him well, but he transformed my life, made my early years as a mother relaxed and happy and secure. And I'm surprised to find I think of him more, not less, as the years pass and I miss him – his lively face, those white linen shirts, his complete lack of small talk, the odd mix of comfort and discomfort that was probably just shyness, the grand gestures that were so creative, so awe-inspiring. I would have loved to see what he did with the rest of his life, and maybe even to have dared be his friend.

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002 My hero / Harley Granville-Barker by Richard Eyre
003 My hero / Edward Goldsmith by Zac Goldsmith
004 My hero / Fridtjof Nansen by Sara Wheeler 
005 My hero / Mother Mercedes Lawler IBVM by Antonia Fraser

007 My hero / Ernest Shepard by Richard Holmes
008 My hero / JG Ballard by Will Self
009 My hero / Alan Ross by William Boyd
010 My hero / Ben the labrador by John Banville

011 My hero / Vicent van Gogh by Margaret Drabble
012 My hero / Franz Marek by Eric Hobsbawm


017 My hero / Jack Yeats by Colm Tóibín
018 My hero / Francisco Goya by Diana Athill
019 My hero / Max Stafford-Clark by Sebastian Barry
020 My hero / Arthur Holmes by Richard Fortey

036 My hero / Robert Lowell by Jonathan Raban
037 My hero / Beryl Bainbridge by Michael Holroyd
038 My hero / Charles Schulz by Jenny Colgan
039 My hero / Oliver Knussen by Adam Foulds
040 My hero / Annie Proulx by Alan Warner

041 My hero / David Lynch by Paul Murray
042 My hero / Edwin Morgan by Robert Crawford
043 My hero / Anne Lister by Emma Donoghue
044 My hero / Jane Helen Harrinson by Mary Beard
045 My hero / Edmund Burke by David Marquand
046 My hero / Shelagh Deleaney by Jeanette Winterson
047 My hero / Christopher Marlowe by Val McDermid
048 My hero / Gwen John by Anne Enright
049 My hero / Michael Mayne by Susan Hill
050 My hero / Stanley Spencer by Howard Jacobson

051 My hero / William Beveridge by Will Hutton
052 My hero / Jean McConville by Amanda Foreman
053 My hero / Alexander Pushkin by Elaine Feinstein
058 My hero / Cy Twombly by Edmund de Waal

079 My hero / Gene Wolfe by Neil Gaiman
087 My hero / Alberto Moravia by John Burnside
096 My hero / Isaac Babel by AD Miller
097 Lucian Freud by Esi Edugyan
100 Thomas Tranströmer by Robin Robertson
102 My hero / David Hockney by Susan Hill


190 My hero / Iris Murdoch by Charlotte Mendelson
194 My hero / René Descartes by James Kelman
199 My hero / Albert Camus by Geoff Dyer


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