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Derek Tangye

Derek & Jean Tangye

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Derek Tangye (1912-1996) was a well-known author who lived in Cornwall.  He wrote over 20 books which became known as 'The Minack Chronicles' - they were about his simple life on a clifftop daffodil farm called Dorminack, affectionately referred to as Minack, in the far west of Cornwall with his wife Jeannie. The couple had given up sophisticated metropolitan lives, he as a newspaper columnist (during the war years he had worked for MI5) and she as a hotel PR executive, to live in isolation in a simple cottage surrounded by their beloved animals, which featured in nearly all his works. His brother Nigel Tangye was also an author. They were grandsons of Richard Tangye. Great Minack Stories (1990) is "An omnibus edition of "Way to Minack", "A Cornish Summer" and "Cottage on a Cliff" which gives an account of the author's time with MI5 and his family's subsequent relocation to a deserted cottage close to the cliffs of Mount's Bay in Cornwall.

Jean (Jeannie) Tangye, whose maiden name was Nicol, also wrote four books whilst at Minack, which were about life in the hotels she worked in before marrying Derek. Jeannie met many famous actors and actresses as well as politicians and eminent world leaders during her time at the Savoy group of hotels. Many of these remained friends with Derek and Jeannie when they moved to Cornwall: including Danny Kaye, James Mason, and the politician George brown. Books (as Jean Nicol): Meet me at the Savoy, 1952; Hotel Regina, 1967; Home is the Hotel, 1976; Bertioni's Hotel, 1983. She also illustrated her husband's books with sketches.

Derek was not originally fond of cats and was introduced to Monty, a ginger tom kitten, when he was given to Jeannie at the Savoy. Monty moved with Derek and Jeannie to Minack where he leapt across the small stream that crosses the path to the cottage. Derek dedicated one of his books to Monty.

Jeannie, after whom one of his books was named, died in 1986 and Derek lived on in the cottage for another ten years, dying at the age of 84. He was in the process of writing 'Shadows' just before his death. The thriller writer John le Carre, who lived a mile away along the cliffpath, gave the eulogy at his funeral.

Derek was reluctant to describe himself as a writer, but his simple literary style had tremendous appeal for a wide range of people who yearned to escape urban and suburban drudgery. His books described the couple's happy and largely carefree life nurturing and selling daffodils in a way that made strap-hanging commuters salivate. The donkeys and cats on their tiny farm all became "characters" in his books, and pilgrims arrived at their door from around the world, all eager to share -- if only for a few hours - their rustic dream. Invariably, Derek and Jeannie would uncork a bottle of wine and entertain visitors in their small, glazed cottage porch, where he was happy to regale them with tales of life at Minack. 

 

Bibliography

Time Was Mine
One King
Went the Day Well (editor)
A Gull on the Roof
A Cat in the Window
A Drake at the Door
A Donkey in the Meadow
Lama
A Cornish Summer
The Way to Minack
The Winding Lane
A Cat Affair
The Cherry Tree
Somewhere a Cat is Waiting (compilation)
The Ambrose Rock
The Story of the Minack Chronicles (compilation)
The World of Forever
The Confusion Room
Jeannie

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