Sebastian Faulks was born in Donnington, a village near Newbury in Berkshire on April 20, 1953. He was the younger son of Peter Faulks (1917-1998) and Pamela, née Lawless (1923-2003). Peter Faulks was a partner in the local law firm Pitman and Bazett. He had interrupted his legal training in 1939 to enlist with the Duke of Wellington’s, a Yorkshire-based infantry regiment. He fought in Holland, France, North Africa, Italy, Palestine and Syria. He was awarded the Military Cross in Tunisia.
He was wounded in North Africa and again when his company was in slit trenches at Anzio. He received further wounds when the Germans bombed the beachhead hospital while he was waiting to be evacuated. He made a full recovery and lived an active life, later sitting as a judge in London and Reading. I had a very happy childhood,’ said Faulks. ‘My parents were kind, humorous and affectionate. My brother Edward was a great companion. We only ever met one of our four grandparents. Two of them were dead and my mother was estranged from her own mother.
There was a sense that everything was beginning again – a fresh start after the War. Faulks worked as a feature writer for the Sunday Telegraph from 1983 to 1986, when he went to join the Independent as Literary Editor. Faulks married Veronica (née Youlten) in 1989.
They have two sons, William and Arthur, born 1990 and 1996 respectively, and one daughter, Holly, born 1992. Faulks is a fan of West Ham United football club Set during the Second World War, Charlotte Gray was the last of Faulks’s French trilogy, following The Girl at the Lion d’Or and Birdsong. It is the most inward-looking of the three books, dealing with themes of memory and loss. The main character’s search for her missing lover in occupied France is set against an uncompromising portrayal of French political life under the German occupation, including French co-operation in the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz.
Despite its harrowing subject matter, it has proved one of Faulks’s most popular novels, remains his best seller in hardback and has sold more than a million copies overall in the United Kingdom. Charlotte Gray was also made into a movie in 2001· Charlotte Gray was filmed by Ecosse Films, directed by Gillian Armstrong in 2001 from a screenplay by Jeremy Brock.
Although the film was thought to have ducked the challenges of the book and fared disappointingly at the box office, it had a strong performance by Cate Blanchett as Charlotte, with notable support from Billy Crudup as Julien and Helen McCrory as a local French courier. ‘Only one line of mine made it into the film,’ said Faulks in 2001. ‘Something about sanitary towels, I’m afraid. The film-makers struggled to find a visual corollary of Charlotte’s inner life, but Cate Blanchett was very good.