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George MacDonald Fraser

George MacDonald Fraser George MacDonald Fraser[1†]

George MacDonald Fraser OBE FRSL (2 April 1925 – 2 January 2008) was a Scottish author and screenwriter[1†][2†]. He is best known for a series of works that featured the character Flashman[1†][2†]. Fraser was born to Scottish parents in Carlisle, England, on 2 April 1925[1†]. His father was a doctor and his mother a nurse. It was his father who passed on to Fraser his love of reading, and a passion for his Scottish heritage[1†].

Early Years and Education

George MacDonald Fraser was born to Scottish parents in Carlisle, England, on 2 April 1925[1†]. His father was a doctor and his mother was a nurse[1†]. It was his father who instilled in Fraser a love of reading and a passion for his Scottish heritage[1†].

Fraser was educated at Carlisle Grammar School and Glasgow Academy[1†]. He described himself as a poor student due to "sheer laziness"[1†]. This meant that he was unable to follow his father’s wishes and study medicine[1†].

Despite his academic struggles, Fraser’s interest in writing was evident from a young age[1†][5†]. His upbringing in Carlisle, Scotland, and the inspiration he drew from his surroundings would later play a significant role in his writing[1†][5†].

Career Development and Achievements

After serving in the British army from 1943 to 1947, Fraser embarked on a career in journalism[1†][2†]. He worked as a sports reporter and journalist in Canada and in his native Scotland[1†][6†][4†]. He served as deputy editor for the Glasgow Herald from 1964 to 1969[1†][6†][7†].

Fraser’s writing career took off with the success of his first novel, “Flashman: From the Flashman Papers, 1839–1842”, which was published in 1969[1†][2†]. The novel, set in Afghanistan, introduced the character of Harry Flashman, a hard-drinking, womanizing, and vain character who was depicted as playing a leading role in many major events of the 19th century[1†][2†]. The success of this novel led Fraser to become a full-time writer[1†][6†].

Fraser wrote a total of eleven novels and one short-story collection in the Flashman series[1†]. He also wrote five other historical novels, three books of short stories, and a scholarly study of the Anglo-Scottish border reivers[1†][2†]. In addition to his novels, Fraser wrote a number of screenplays, including those for the James Bond film “Octopussy” and an adaptation of his own novel "Royal Flash"[1†].

Fraser’s work is notable for its historical accuracy and the critical acclaim it received[1†]. His writing has been praised for its vivid descriptions, engaging narratives, and well-researched historical settings[1†][2†].

First Publication of His Main Works

George MacDonald Fraser’s literary career is most recognized for his creation of the character Flashman, a fictional anti-hero who first appeared in Thomas Hughes’ novel “Tom Brown’s School Days” (1857)[1†]. Fraser took this character and developed an entire series around him, known as the Flashman Papers[1†].

Some notable works from the Flashman Papers series:

In addition to the Flashman Papers, Fraser also wrote screenplays for several films, including “The Three Musketeers” (1973), “Royal Flash” (1975), and the James Bond movie “Octopussy” (1983)[1†][8†][9†].

Fraser’s works are characterized by their historical accuracy, vivid storytelling, and the distinctive character of Harry Flashman. His novels have been praised for their detailed depiction of the 19th century and their humorous, albeit unflattering, portrayal of a British anti-hero[1†].

Analysis and Evaluation

George MacDonald Fraser’s work, particularly the Flashman Papers series, has been widely recognized for its historical accuracy, vivid storytelling, and the distinctive character of Harry Flashman[1†][2†]. His ability to weave historical events into the adventures of a fictional character has been praised for its creativity and depth[1†][2†].

Fraser’s Flashman is an anti-hero, a character type that is not commonly the focus of historical novels[1†][2†]. This unique approach has allowed Fraser to explore the complexities and contradictions of the 19th-century British Empire from an unconventional perspective[1†][2†].

Critics have noted Fraser’s ability to expose the hypocrisy of the Victorian era[1†][7†]. His meticulous research and attention to detail have been compared to the works of Patrick O’Brien[1†][7†]. Other authors who have created iconic characters in the Flashman mold include Ian Fleming, Arthur Conan Doyle, and C.S. Forester[1†][7†].

Fraser’s writing style has been described as a juggling act, able to balance the styles of Conan Doyle and Holmes, Fleming and Bond, Wodehouse and Wooster, and Chandler and Marlowe[1†][10†]. His work has been called a master of hijinks, unabashedly nostalgic, knowledgeable, witty, and ebullient[1†][10†].

In conclusion, George MacDonald Fraser’s work, especially the Flashman Papers series, has left a significant impact on historical fiction. His unique approach to character and historical events has provided readers with a fresh perspective on the 19th century[1†][2†].

Personal Life

George MacDonald Fraser was born on April 2, 1925, in Carlisle, England, to Scottish parents[1†][11†]. His father was a doctor and his mother a nurse[1†]. It was his father who passed on to Fraser his love of reading and a passion for his Scottish heritage[1†].

In 1949, Fraser married Kathleen Hetherington[1†][12†]. The couple had four children, including Caro Fraser[1†]. Caro Fraser is an accomplished author in her own right, known for her series of legal dramas centered around the Caper Court law chambers[1†].

Fraser and his family eventually moved to the Isle of Man, where he lived until his death on January 2, 2008[1†][2†]. The Isle of Man, with its lower tax rates, was an attractive place for Fraser to focus on his writing[1†].

Throughout his life, Fraser maintained a deep connection to his Scottish heritage. This was reflected not only in his personal life but also in his professional work, including his writings on Scottish history[1†][11†].

Conclusion and Legacy

George MacDonald Fraser left a significant mark on the literary world, particularly through his Flashman series[1†][2†][3†]. His unique blend of historical accuracy, humor, and satire, as embodied in the character of Harry Flashman, has been widely praised and enjoyed by readers around the world[1†][2†][3†].

Fraser’s work extended beyond his novels. He was also a successful screenwriter, contributing to films such as “Royal Flash” and the James Bond film "Octopussy"[1†][8†]. His diverse writing career showcased his talent and versatility[1†][2†][3†][8†].

Fraser’s legacy continues to live on through his works, which remain popular and influential. His contribution to literature was recognized in 1999 when he was awarded the Order of Officer of the British Empire (OBE)[1†][2†].

In conclusion, George MacDonald Fraser’s life and work had a significant impact on literature and screenwriting. His unique blend of historical fiction and satire, as well as his contributions to film, have left a lasting legacy[1†][2†][3†][8†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - George MacDonald Fraser [website] - link
  2. Britannica - George MacDonald Fraser: British writer [website] - link
  3. Encyclopedia.com - Fraser, George MacDonald [website] - link
  4. IMDb - George MacDonald Fraser - Biography [website] - link
  5. Book Series In Order - George MacDonald Fraser [website] - link
  6. IMDb - George MacDonald Fraser [website] - link
  7. The Guardian - George Macdonald Fraser [website] - link
  8. BAFTA - George MacDonald Fraser [website] - link
  9. CBC - Flashman author George MacDonald Fraser dies [website] - link
  10. Grove Atlantic - George Macdonald Fraser [website] - link
  11. Fandom - James Bond Wiki - George MacDonald Fraser [website] - link
  12. The Independent - George MacDonald Fraser: Writer whose tales of Flashman changed the face of British historical fiction [website] - link
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