Historian, author and critic Patrick French has died. He was a prolific writer and an exceptional humanitarian.
What happened to Patrick French?
Novelist William Dalrymple has tweeted the news of the death of historian and author Patrick French.
“I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of Patrick French. Patrick and I met when we were both thirteen, and he served as best man at my wedding. He was sweet, witty, full of enthusiasm and energy. And, says Dalrymple, he is the best biographer of our generation.
Historian and author Ramachandra Guha tweeted the news.
“I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Patrick French. V.S. A brilliant writer whose works by Naipaul and Frances Younghusband are considered classics of modern biographical writing. In addition, he was a wonderful person who was constantly kind to friends and strangers alike.
Cause of death of Patrick French
The literary, scholarly and media worlds have all paid tribute to the French. Patrick French, an eminent public intellectual, award-winning biographer and historian most recognized for his distinguished writings on India has died as a result of complications from cancer. The novelist, who had been ill for some time, passed away on Thursday at the age of 56.
Patrick is married to Meru Gokhale, daughter of writer Namitha Gokhale and former editor-in-chief of Penguin Random House India.
Statement of the family
British historian and author Patrick French died Thursday in London after a four-year battle with cancer, his family announced.
V.S. French, best known for his biography of Naipaul, “The World Is What It” and “India: A Portrait,” died at 8 a.m. (London time), his wife Meru Gokhale said.
“Today at 8.10am my beloved husband Patrick French passed away in London after a brave battle with cancer. He was a most exceptional father, friend, husband, teacher and mentor. His mercy and love will be with us forever. He passed away in peace without suffering.” said Gokhale, former publisher of Penguin Press Group.
A quick summary of Patrick French’s life
Patrick French was a British author, professor and historian who lived from 1966 to March 2023. He completed his education at the University of Edinburgh, where he majored in South Asian Studies and studied English and American Literature.
In July 2017, he was selected to serve as the first Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, University of Ahmedabad. Young Husband: The Last Great Imperial Adventure, Biography of Francis Younghusband, The World Is What It Is, Nobel Prize Winner V.S. An acclaimed biography of Naipaul, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award in the US and India: A. Portrait is some work by French (2011).
He ran for the French Parliament as a Green Party candidate in the 1992 general election. He has been a founding participant of the India-UK Round Table and has served on the executive committee of Free Tibet, a pro-Tibet organization in the UK.
Nobel Prize and recognition
Nobel Prize winner VS Naipaul’s official biography, The World Is What It Is, was published in 2008. According to Ian Buruma in the New York Review of Books, French is credited with creating “consensus biography.”
The book was selected as one of the “10 Best Novels of 2008” by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. The World Is What It Is won the American National Book Critics Circle Award in 2008 and was nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize. In 2009, he also received the Hawthornton Award for the French Book.
India: A Portrait, Patrick’s book, “an intimate biography of 1.2 billion people”, was published in 2011. This book tells how India is being transformed by social and economic revolutions.
Along with publishing books, he also launched a website, The India Site, focusing on India. The official biography of Doris Lessing is now being written by Patrick.
Effects of the British Empire in India and Nobel Prize-winning novelist V.S. French’s ability to delve into complex and often controversial topics such as Naipaul’s life earned him great respect. He is renowned for his meticulous research, lucid prose and perceptive yet critical eye.