Catalan officials on Thursday offered their condolences over the death at the age 85 of Tom Sharpe, the British satirical novelist and author of the Wilt series, who had been living in the region for over 15 years.
The first deputy mayor of Palafrugell, Albert Gómez, held a joint press conference with the writer’s widow, Nancy Sharpe, his doctor, and the director of the Hotel Llevant, where he stayed for four spells before finally purchasing a home in Llafranc.
Albert Gómez noted Sharpe’s “corrosive, acid humor to position himself against that which he found unfair.”
Nancy Sharpe, a US citizen, explained that “the family is very happy that Tom found this place; it was very good for him, he loved to live here, first in the hotel and then in his own home. He died in the least cruel way, and we are happy for him; he was a person who loved the light, the Mediterranean and the sun.”
In an interview with EL PAÍS in 2004, Sharpe himself explained how he came to live in Catalonia. “A few years ago I came to Barcelona for a press conference, and I took the opportunity to ask my publisher and my agent if they knew of a little hotel where I might rest for a few days. They recommended Hotel Llevant, here on the Costa Brava. I spent a few days there with my wife. The next year I spent a month. The year after that, two months. I spent up to five months out of the year at the hotel.”
The head of the hotel, Carme Farrarons, explained that Sharpe first stayed at her establishment in the early 1990s in the company of his agent. Llafranc was “love at first sight,” she said. Farrarons also described Sharpe as “a very disciplined” person who devoted the entire day to his work.
His physician, Montserrat Verdaguer, said that Sharpe died “calmly” and revealed that he had been working on an autobiography. Besides his Wilt books, the writer is also known for his earlier works, Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure, both set in South Africa, where he lived as a young man.
Sharpe was nearly taken by peritonitis in 2006, but he survived, and he dedicated his next novel, The Gropes, to the Catalan team of doctors who treated him. He also publicly described the Catalan health system as “marvelous” and asserted that had he been treated in England, “I might be dead right now.”
“He was a great champion of human rights and equality,” added the mayor of Palafrugell, Juli Fernández, noting that Sharpe even wrote a book praising Catalonia’s public health system, in which he said he would not have received such good treatment back home in England. The town of Llafranc is now ready to pay its dues to the writer by naming a street or square after him if his family so wishes, Fernández said.