According to legend, Sir Isaac Newton was resting under an apple tree when an apple fell off at the precise moment on the cosmic clock and struck him on the head. Out of this experience the law of gravity emerged from his fertile mind.
What is not a legend is the experience of Brian Jacques and his apple tree. To a number of people outside of the United Kingdom the name of Brian Jacques may not ring any bells.
Mr. Jacques was born June 15, 1939 in Liverpool. Living near the docks, he and his family experienced the daily horrors of the Luftwaffe’s sorties overhead.
The sound of the Heinkel 111’s twin engines must have been impressed on the young child’s mind as were the exploding armaments. Each Heinkel 111 carried a maximum bomb load just over 7,000 pounds. With its impressive 74-foot wing span it was like a fiery dragon dropping fire from the skies.
In war certain sounds are never forgotten. They just wait in the subconscious for an oratorical trigger.
By the time Mr. Jacques was 15 he did what a number of young men have done over the centuries. He joined the merchant marine and experienced the lust for life which only can be achieved on the sea.
Ending his seafaring days, he followed in his father’s footsteps as a lorry (truck) driver. However, this young man would seek other career paths in his journey of life on this planet traversing the cosmos. A longshoreman, a railway fireman, a police constable, a bus driver, a postmaster, a boxer, a folk singer ( The Liverpool Fishermen), but eventually, it was his job as a milkman in his home town of Liverpool where fame would catch him unawares.
One day he was invited for tea at the Royal Wavertree School for the Blind. Now, tea time is a serious business. A few weeks ago I was invited for tea by an old friend and colleague from South Africa. It was a most enjoyable time. So, if you ever get invited to tea, please avail yourself of the opportunity. It is most grand.
When Mr. Jacques was at the school, he volunteered to read to the children. However, he found the reading materials a total bore. There was no inspiration to cause a child to aspire to new worlds and realities.
So, he sat down and wrote an 800 page manuscript which would be the beginning of the Redwall series. Redwall and its centre, Redwall Abbey, became a signature series of children books. These “yarns” are clear cut where the “goodies” and “baddies” are just that with no shadows of gray tossed into the mix. As Mr. Jacques has said numerous times—there is no need to confuse children between good and evil, between good and bad.
Sadly, Brian Jacques passed from this earth on February 5, 2011 in the Royal Liverpool hospital. He was 71. He is survived by his wife, Maureen, sons Marc and David, and a granddaughter Jade.
On May 3 Rogue Crew, the 22nd book in the series, will be available. It is about the battle for Redwall Abbey.
Did Brian Jacques live life well on this orb? All indications are a resounding yes!
As he rejoins the cosmic ocean from whence we all came, may he find his Redwall Abbey and friends there. I am sure that there will be a cosmic symphony for this yarn spinner, composer, playwright, poet, comedian, singer as the morning stars sing and the rays of new stars form in the cradle of creation.
Perhaps, a glorious apple tree will be there for him once again to sit under as he dreams of his beautiful world of Redwall. For on this earth it was under his apple tree in his backyard where he loved to ponder and write his yarns.
If I may leave you with a quote from Mr. Jacques: “In our imagination we can go anywhere. Travel with me to Redwall in Mossflower country. Redwall is where safety and warmth surround you. Food, friends, music, and song. Redwall will always welcome you back…”
G. D. Williams © 2011
Brian Jacques Tribute
Austin Texas October 25, 2008 Brian Jacques’ Book Tour parts 1-4