Tom Sharpe was born in 1928. He was educated at Lancing College
, England and also at Pembroke College
. His third novel Porterhouse Blue
was loosely inspired by the Cambridge college Peterhouse
, which since he never studied there, probably holds this somewhat dubious honour
mostly because of its' age and size -- Peterhouse dates back to 1284, and is one of Cambridge's smallest colleges.
He lived in South Africa between 1951 and 1961 at which time he was deported, and returned to England.
His time in South Africa provided the background for his first two books, Riotous Assembly
, and the followup Indecent Exposure
. Whilst many of Sharpe's novels exhibit a somewhat jaundiced view of the police force, his portrayal of the South African police is both brutal and hillarious (at a strictly misfortune is funny
level). Pausing only to lampoon the British Gentry (another favourite target for Sharpe), he produces a withering attack on the attitudes to race in South Africa prior to the fall of Apartheid. It would be wrong to suggest that Sharpe is a social commentator of any kind -- it might be more accurate to class him as a dirty old man
with a good knowledge of his target market -- but his works are satire, and politic is present. Indeed, many of his novels seem to suggest some sympathy for Libertarianism
, and his worst punishments are usually reserved for his least cynical characters. This isn't to say his writings do not have liberal leanings too, just that he seems to appreciate cynicism. Probably his most well devloped character, that of Henry Wilt, is by the end of the novel, the epitome of cynical liberalism.
A number of Sharpe's novels have been televised, with varying degress of success, and his fith novel, Wilt
, was made into a film by British comic duo Mel Smith
and Griff Rhys Jones
. The film was, IMV
, not a very good adaptation of the book, and was not a great success at the cinemas.
Tom Sharpe's novels have also been translated to German, Swedish, and Dutch.