Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Overlook Author Profile:

Kyril Bonfiglioli: Author of the MORTDECAI TRILOGY and ALL THE TEA IN CHINA

(Read Leo Carey's full article on Bonfiglioli from the September 20, 2004 issue of the New Yorker.)

Born on May 29, 1928, on the south coast of England, Kyril Bonfiglioli’s father was an antiquarian book dealer.

Bonfiglioli lost his mother and brother during WWII when their air raid shelter suffered a direct hit. Bonfiglioli, who was 14, survived because he was out playing in the street.

After studying at Oxford, Bonfiglioli began dealing art, starting his own company, Bonfiglioli Limited, in 1960.

Bonfiglioli’s own life was often confused with that of the eponymous protagonist of his Mortdecai Trilogy, Charlie Mortdecai. This confusion was in many ways encouraged by Bonfiglioli himself, who prefaces the first book in the trilogy, Don’t Point That Thing at Me, by asserting “This is not an autobiographical novel. It is about some other portly, dissolute, immoral and middle-aged art dealer.”

Of his three wives, who bore him five children, he wrote, “Married again and again; one died; one I deserted; one threw me out. You can’t really want to know their names even if I could remember.”

Bonfiglioli, a chronic drinker, died of cirrhosis of the liver in Jersey on March 3, 1985.

Long out of print, the Mortdecai Trilogy, which consists of Don’t Point That Thing at Me, Something Nasty in the Woodshed, and After You with the Pistol, are now available from Overlook in a single volume or individually, as is All the Tea in China, which follows Charlie Mortdecai’s nineteenth-century Dutch ancestor’s adventures on the high seas

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