Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Derek Raymond aka Robin Cook
Robert William Arthur Cook (1931 –1994), better known since the 1980s by his pen name Derek Raymond, was an English crime writer, credited with being a founder of British noir.
The eldest son of a textile magnate, Cook spent his early years at the family’s London house, off Baker Street, tormenting a series of nannies. In 1937, in anticipation of the Second World War, the family retreated to the countryside, to a house near their Kentish castle. In 1944 Cook went to Eton, which he later characterized as a “hotbed of buggery” and “an excellent preparation for vice of any kind”.
He dropped out at the age of 17. During his National Service, Cook attained the rank of corporal (latrines). After a brief stint working for the family business, selling lingerie in a department store in Neath, Wales, he spent most of the 1950s abroad. He lived in the Beat Hotel in Paris, rubbing shoulders with his neighbours William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, and danced at fashionable left bank boîtes with the likes of Juliette Greco.
In New York he resided on the Lower East Side and was married to an heiress from New England for all of sixty-five days. He claimed that he was sick of the dead-on-its-feet upper crust he was born into, that he didn’t believe in and didn’t want, whose values were meaningless.
He was seeking to carve his way out — “Crime was the only chisel I could find.” Cook smuggled oil paintings to Amsterdam, drove fast cars into Spain from Gibraltar, and consummated his downward mobility by spending time in a Spanish jail for sounding off about Francisco Franco in his local bar.