Best-selling author and his family ‘rather sweet’

Ledbury Reporter: FILM: Tom Hanks and Halle Berry in Cloud Atlas FILM: Tom Hanks and Halle Berry in Cloud Atlas

THE launch of a blockbuster movie has revived fond memories of the quiet best-selling author who lived in town and did some research through a High Street bookshop.

David Mitchell, the writer of the novel Cloud Atlas, which has been released as a multi-million pound fllm by the makers of the Matrix movies, moved to Ledbury in about 2002.

He rented a house in Hazle Close, Deer Park, but few people realised what a talented man was living and working in the town.

Cherry Bentley-Taylor, who was then manageress of Ledbury Books and Maps, recalled her first encounter with the writer.

She said: “He came into the shop and ordered a rather expensive book on Japan, and told me he was researching a book.

“In all his reviews, it never mentions his time in Ledbury, but he was here for quite a while.”

The Ledbury Reporter understands Mr Mitchell with his wife Keiko and young family, rented their Hazle Close home for at least 18 months, before they moved away to the west coast of Ireland.

He arrived in Ledbury more than one year before the publication of Cloud Atlas (2004), now a major Warner Brothers movie starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw.

Mr Mitchell explained to Mrs Bentley-Taylor that the new novel he was researching was The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (published 2010), a story set in 18th century Japan and which follows the adventures of a Dutch clerk.

Mrs Bentley-Taylor was not sure whether or not Cloud Atlas was actually worked on in Ledbury.

But former neighbour Joan Minton, of Hazle Close, believes it was.

She said: “We did know at the time he was a writer, and one day a neighbour told me his book had been shortlisted for the Booker.

“The family were rather sweet.

“We went to a coffee morning run by a couple who lived opposite, and that’s how we met them.

“Then one day he called me over and said they were moving, to the west coast of Ireland.”

Mrs Bentley-Taylor also has fond memories of Mr Mitchell.

She said: “He was delightful; a very intelligent and thoughful person.”

Mr Mitchell was born in Merseyside but grew up in Hanley Swan, Upton and Malvern and went to Hanley Castle High School.

One of his novels Black Swan Green is based on his memories of growing up in the Malvern area.

He taught English in Japan for many years.

Cloud Atlas (2004) is a series of interlocking tales which show how one life may interact with others, even over many centuries.

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