Tom Sharpe

There was a time in the eighties and nineties when sighting a new Tom Sharpe title was followed by immediate purchase and subsequent reading in a sitting or two (or, if I recall correctly, three at the outside).

Born in London, deported from South Africa where he’d worked as a social worker and teacher, Tom Sharpe became a history lecturer at the Cambridge College of Arts and Technology and delivered a series of hilarious satires including the Wilt series, The Great Pursuit, where he hit the publishing business with both barrels and his first two novels (Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure), set in apartheid-era South Africa. 

At his best, the books were ribald, densely plotted, savagely satirical and a hilarious read, but health problems and writer’s block mean that anything I’ve read written after the mid-eighties has been a major disappointment.

The titles On My Shelves may get a re-read at some point (that’s why they’re still there) but anything else doesn’t appear under Investigate availability of because I’ve been disappointed 


  • The Gropes, which, like the other recent Sharpe I’ve read is well below what he delivered earlier in his career. An easy read, but like half an hour after I was finished I’d forgotten the details.

On My Shelves:

Riotous Assembly (1971)

Indecent Exposure (1973)

Porterhouse Blue (1974)

Blott On the Landscape (1975)

The Great Pursuit (1977)

The Throwback (1978)

Ancestral Vices (1980)

Vintage Stuff (1982) 

Wilt Series:

Wilt (1976)

The Wilt Alternative (1979)

Wilt On High (1984)

© Ian Hughes 2012