A Season Passes – an Author Remembered

J. Robert Whittle
It was a sign of the coming summer when at the top of Bastion Square, J. Robert Whittle, the ‘Book Guy,’ set up his book stall. He arrived early before anyone else and I would often pass him on my walk to work. Too often I was running late and couldn’t stop to chat. I finally left home at a reasonable time one morning allowing myself the opportunity to stop. As an aspiring writer, I am always curious about fellow writers and their journey.
The first novel I bought was the first story he wrote and published. I enjoyed the story of Lizzie a young orphan girl navigating her way through life on the streets of London. Last year I purchased the last book he wrote Race for a Treasure. I haven’t read it yet, it still sits on my bookshelf. This week it will make it to my nightstand and will be next on my reading pile.
The colourful artwork of his books drew many tourists. They were soon captivated by his personable manner. He wasn’t a pushy salesman. He chatted with those who stopped, his personality sold more books than any sales pitch. As someone who buys art from a local artist on my foreign travels. I always thought that Mr. Whittle had a clever idea to sell stories about local history. How far those books have traveled would be a tale in itself.
I am so glad that I didn’t just give him a wave in passing on my morning walks to work.  I don’t work downtown anymore and recently when I passed by his spot, I was sad to see he wasn’t there. I remember mentioning it to friends and they thought he might have gone to another market. News of his passing arrived at my door by way of a recent Sunday paper. My visits and chats with this warm and engaging Yorkshire man were all too brief, but oh so memorable.
With the arrival of September, another summer will be drawing to a close and the markets will be packing up for the season in October. Like turning pages in a book, leaves will fall from the trees and blossoms will drop their petals, their story telling force will lie dormant once more. Trees, flaming and torch-like pass on their creative fire to writers who will, in turn, seclude themselves in their snug creative spaces their own dormancy at an end. Summer’s warm reprieve is renewable energy to this wordsmith.

2 thoughts on “A Season Passes – an Author Remembered”

  1. Kelly….how sad to hear of his passing but how wonderful you have no regrets…you shared in his story.
    You articulate beautifully.

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