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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Michael Turner (1929-2009)

Michael Turner, who collaborated with Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper on the translations of English-language editions of Tintin, died on 10 July, aged 80 [the Daily Telegraph gives 3 July].

Michael Ralph Turner was born on 26 January 1929 and educated at Newport School, Essex. He served as a brass player with RAF Transport Command during his national service before working on J. M. Dent's Everyman's Encyclopedia as a rewriter and studying English at Trinity College, Cambridge. Here he met his wife to be, actress Ruth Baylis.

He began his career at Methuen & Co. as a slush pile reader, working his way up to chief executive of Associated Book Publishers. He was also the chairman of the Book Marketing Council.

He was still a junior member of staff when Hergé's Tintin books were offered to Methuen and, despite his enthusiasm, the series was almost turned down. Comics were not stocked by libraries and Hergé's books had the added cost of requiring translation. Turner and Lonsdale-Cooper removed this problem by offering to do the translations for free and Methuen agreed to publish King Ottokar's Sceptre adn The Crab with the Golden Claws in 1958.

They would eventually translate all 24 books with the blessing of Hergé, who said "I want you to convey the spirit, and you can depart from the text. If you get the spirit right I shall be happy." He refused to allow anyone else do the translations.

A photograph of Turner and his co-translator can be found at the National Portrait Gallery.

Obituaries: The Times (4 August), Daily Telegraph (14 August), The Independent (2 October).

1 comment:

  1. one of 'comics' chosen for spielberg movie