Robert Lipscombe
a writer doing his job



Robert Lipscombe was born in Mtwara, Tanzania.
He studied first at Cambridge and then at Oxford and latterly at King's College, London. He believes his expertise lies in creative writing (its theory and practice) and logical literacy-the dark art of clear thinking and lucid exposition. He lives in Oxford.
formerly a literary agent for AP Watt, now United Agents
caradoc king
'Dear Rob I enormously enjoyed reading A Tree For Salamander and feel very excited about the book's potential. It is the most ambitious, richly imaginative and compelling first novel I have read in years and I would be delighted to act as your agent for it. There are parts of the book which I think are quite superbly written and show without doubt that you are a writer of natural and exceptional talent.' 'I feel that the book has the potential to be a big international seller.' 'Warm congratulations on a very major achievement!' (excerpts from the letter from Caradoc King, AP Watt Ltd to Robert Lipscombe)
Peter Straus
formerly Hamish Hamilton Senior Editor, now Roger, White and Coleridge literary agent
'Dear Caradoc As you know, I am hugely excited about this novel. It is quite marvellously written, and is a major work of the imagination. However, an even more important point to me is that it possesses a vision and world-perspective which very few contemporary English novelists have. Here is an Englishman having the ambition to set down a novel, the scope and breadth of which demands comparisons with Eco, Grass and Marquez.' 'As for publication, I would be keen to publish [...], with a major push as the launch of a writer of world-class stature and vision.' 'Finally, I would like to say that it was a great honour to be able to read this - my hat is off to you for finding an author of this potential.' (excerpts from the letter from Hamish Hamilton to Caradoc King, regarding The Salamander Tree novel)
Blackwell's Bookshop, Oxford
'Author of the incredible newspaper novel The English Project - a courageous and attention-grabbing political novel about the state of the nation and our moral universe.' 'We applaud Robert Lipscombe for his bravery, ingenuity and passion for publishing his most recent novel as a newspaper and we thank him for taking the time to write this fascinating piece for Broad Conversation.'
Cherry Mosteshar
Author, The Oxford Editors
'I need to take a breath, this is such an amazing book I run the risk of gushing praise. Not an easy read, it challenges the reader on so many levels, but worth the effort. One of those books that come in each generation that should not be missed. If you loved his The Salamander Tree you will adore this.'
'I don't think there can be many novelists who are more emotionally and intellectually focussed, have as fierce and consistent a moral outlook, possess a greater ability to handle big themes and demonstrate the eloquence to do them justice as Robert Lipscombe. Hailed at the outset of his writing career as an outstanding new novelist whose first novel was compared with John Fowles and The Magus, his subsequent career has illustrated perfectly the plight of the writer who dares to attempt more than his publishers are prepared to allow. He has started the process of publishing all his novels rejected by commercial publishers and two, reviewed below, have appeared already. However, this process has lately metamorphosed into a form which harks back to an earlier mode of publication which Dickens might have approved of - the novel as newspaper.' Lipscombe's first novel appeared in 1991. Entitled The Salamander Tree, it was published by Hamish Hamilton. It does indeed deserve its comparison with The Magus. The novel commences as the second world war is still in progress. A secret agent, Captain Dennis Jackson, codenamed 'Salamander' is parachuted into Germany and thus starts a sequence of events, which will have profound consequences. After the war, an author, Robert Clare, is invited by 'Interested Parties' to explore the writing of a man as yet unnamed. Clare embarks on a quest which leads him out from Canterbury to Berlin and far beyond. He stumbles on secrets, frightening, occult, which lead him into strange areas and bring him at last into a metaphysical enlightenment of self-knowledge and infinite possibility. And he finds a guide, a companion, a sort of Everyman figure, Hugo Thayer. He is a character of great importance in Lipscombe's moral universe and appears again in The English Project. This is an ambitious, sometimes difficult book, dramatic and page-turning and leading us into areas beyond normal reality to places of metaphysical discussion and insight. In those qualities, it is a precursor to Lipscombe's other presently available books. Cometh the Day, his second novel, takes us to Russia in 1991. The August Putsch has failed, the Soviet Union is falling apart and gangsterism is thriving. Two party apparatchiks, Irene P and Mstivlav Dimitriev, have to look elsewhere if they are to survive in this uncharted new world. They devise a plan to raid the Tomb of Authors, an archive of purged Russian writers and use them in a great scam. But though the writers are dead and their manuscripts can be burned, their work lives on, with revelations which can kill. Dimitriev comes to England where more characters become involved, including some we have met before, notably Hugo Thayer. Once again, the story involves a debate about conduct, morality and worth, possible more teasingly that in the other novels, but there is also a narrative to be worked out and desperate revelations to follow. The English Project is undoubtedly his most ambitious and perhaps most deeply felt novel to date, with an excoriating view of the society we live in. This time, Hugo Thayer is present at the start. He is in court and a harsh judge is depriving him of custody of his son. And more: this judge, along with the evil pair Pisle and Gisle, is pushing Thayer to even more savage extremes, depriving him of a voice, of any rights, leaving him a vestige of a human being and despatching him to everlasting frustration. This is indeed a vision of Hell. But the judge is absorbed into The College, a skewed (or is it?) view of a suffocating Establishment, an ever-present conspiracy, and Hugo becomes his case study. But the judge has changed: he wants to absorb Thayer himself in to The College. He offers a sort of Faustian pact. Now begins a stunning debate, treading many paths and exploring many levels. The books are not for skimming. Lipscombe can work at rarefied levels. But you must persevere. You'll be made to think. But you'll also be well rewarded. Very soon you'll find yourself swept along by his depiction of memorable characters, profound and urgent themes, a unique, resonant style and, underlying everything, fierce sincerity and clear, unclouded intellect.'

THE TELEGRAPH ''A talent to watch.'
P.E. Cuberos
author of The Thermodynamics of Love Trilogy
'This is an amazing, yet challenging book, for mind, spirit, imagination and vocabulary! I am convinced Robert Lipscombe is one of the greatest writers of our time. Not for the intellectually lazy, I warn you!' (About The English Project)
Dan Antal author of Out of Romania (Faber&Faber)

'To my friend Robert, a great English writer. Without your help this book couldn't have been written. I really don't have words to thank you for the tremendous amount of work you invested in Out of Romania. I'll always be proud to say that you are the co-author of it.' September '94 Dan Antal
 'I’ve mentioned becoming friends with Jack and with Harlan (whose work had such an impact on me when I was twenty and teaching primary school). Other conscious influences (to make that important distinction) include J.G. Ballard (particularly the Vermilion Sands collection, his early disaster novels and much of the earlier shorter work), Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Cordwainer Smith, Shakespeare, poets like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Andrew Marvell, Gerard Manly Hopkins, John Donne, Robert Lowell, Robert Frost. Add to these the best work of Theodore Sturgeon, Roger Zelazny, Samuel R. Delany and, yes, Asimov and Heinlein. Add John Fowles for The Magus, Fritz Leiber mainly for Our Lady of Darkness and “A Bit of the Dark World”, Robert Lipscombe for The Salamander Tree, Ian McDonald for Desolation Road and many of his fine short stories, Patrick White for The Vivisector, Herman Melville for Moby Dick.'
back to top conscious influences of the Australian 'dark fantasy' writer Terry Dowling
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Robert Lipscombe copyright 2015