Philip E High  
A tribute  
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Tributes

Philip Harbottle

(Philip's Editor)

 

Philip Empson High lived for most of his life in Canterbury, Kent. His parents were of Norfolk origin, and he was born 28 April 1914 in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire. The family moved to Kent when he was seven. Apart from war service in the Navy, he lived in Kent for the rest of his life. He married Pamela Baker in 1950, and they had two daughters.
In 2006, having been diagnosed with cancer, Phil, a widower, decided to sell his house and move to Stony Stratford in Buckinghamshire, in order to be nearer to his daughter Beverley. He had decided to fight the cancer with radio-therapy, and was hoping to make a new start. Tragically, with the sale agreed, and a new home secured, Phil suffered a heart attack, and was admitted to hospital just a few days before he was due to move. Recovering from the heart attack, Phil eventually succumbed to respiratory failure and a chest infection, and died on August 9th 2006.
I will miss Phil High tremendously. He was a modest and kindly man, softly-spoken, courteous, helpful, always full of enthusiasm. He was a gentleman...
As a writer, he was an editor's dream, always appreciative and responsive to contructive criticism and willing to revise if requested. My very real regret is that I was not able to do more for him, after he invited me to become his agent in 1999. In addition to the 10 new stories in STEP TO THE STARS, I was priviledged to publish some 21 new fantasy and sf stories by him in Fantasy Annual, Gryphon SF and Fantasy Reader, Fantasy Quarterly, and Fantasy Adventures.
Phil High is survived by his two daughters, Beverley and Jacqueline, who can be justly proud of their father's long and distinguished writing career, the wider recognition of which is long overdue.

 

Locus, September 2006.

by Marion & Richard Van Der Voort (Owners of 'At the Sign of the Dragon bookshop)

 

Phil High was a man who was wonderfully self-contained. Never one to chase other writers or fans, his interests were many, ranging from psychology and theology to living off the land and medical treatments. He never looked back, and despite serving in the navy during the war, his only public reference to it was coming home to Canterbury on leave on the night of the Baedeker raid, when nearly a quarter of Canterbury was demolished. His favorite author was Nevil Shute, and like him, he believed that every human had the ability to be a great man or woman in the right circumstances. Like many another English writers he was more noted in the east of the world, and as well as being mainly published in America, he also had books translated in serveral languages, including German and Portuguese. Most of his books had the same general theme, of a disaster looming to be met with courage, but the range of ideas was enormous, from nanotechnology to corrective genetic engineering, from parallel worlds to dictatorial political systems.
He was a devoted driver, each year picking out the car he would like to have, and thoroughly enjoying his work as a bus and coach driver and then as a delivery van driver for a florist. He was saddened by his doctor's advice to give up driving at 85, but took up computers instead. Deciding that he must give up smoking when he retired he started to years beforehand while still smoking 40 a day, and cut down one cigarette a day each week until he reached zero.
He had a great sense of humour, and was noted for his wit and sense of fun. He was also a poet, pruning his work more severely than any critic would have done. His family and friends will miss him greatly.

 

The Indepenent, The (London), Aug 19, 2006
By John Clute
Obituaries: PHILIP E. HIGH

 

Philip E. High was one of a small band of British writers of popular fiction who flourished for a while in the cut-throat world of English science-fiction magazines of the 1950s. Like some of his peers - John Brunner was the most famous E.C. Tubb and Ken Bulmer were the most prolific - he first sold widely to journals like Authentic and Nebula, then stepped up-market to the United States, where the first of his 14 novels, Prodigal Sun, appeared in 1964. High was not alone in understanding that full-time employment in this publishing environment was no way to make a living, unless one was willing, like Tubb or Bulmer, to write literally hundreds of novels for pennies.
He was perhaps fortunate, therefore, to have come relatively late to his writing career. Philip Empson High was born in 1914 in Bedfordshire, and never left the south of England. Before the war he worked as a reporter for local newspapers' after Navy service he became an insurance agent and in 1950 he was hired as a bus driver for the East Kent Car Road Company, a job he retained until his retirement in 1979.
His personal life was also stable and sustaining, his marriage to Pamela Baker lasted for more than 40 years. So he was free to enter the killing fields, and to enjoy his life as a writer. It is a sign of his modest sense of his creative range that the only author he recognised as a model for his own work was Nevil Shute. Interestingly, his work does resemble that model not only in its easy, flexible clarity but also in a cultural pessimism not always found in popular writers.

 

 
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