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Friday, July 08, 2011

Iain Blair (1942-2011)

Iain Blair, the Scottish former actor and author, who died on 3 July, aged 69, had a double life as romance writer Emma Blair. Emma became hugely popular for 'her' 29 bodice rippers with titles An Apple from Eden, Arrows of Desire, Goodnight, Sweet Prince, Moonlit Eyes, Passionate Times, The Princess of Poor Street and Where No Man Cries. The 6' 3" Glaswegian was not your typical romance writer.

Prior to his becoming 'Emma' in the 1980s, a fact only revealed when he won the Romantic Novel of the Year award in 1998, Iain had been a jobbing actor. Born on 12 August 1942, his early life included moves to America and Australia before he settled in Glasgow and found work on The Sunday Post. He also turned to acting, with various film roles in theatre, radio, film and TV which sustained him for 20 years.

He also had a stab at writing plays - including Gilhooley Came and The Dark Rainbow - and, in the mid-1970s, writing novels. Given the market, he turned out four hard-bitten thrillers: three for Sphere (True, Duff, Bone), all published in 1977, and Hooligan's Rant for NEL in 1979. All four disappeared without a trace and when his next novel, a romance, was sold to a publisher, his agent suggested that women preferred reading romances written by other women.

Blair was diagnosed four years ago with diabetes. He died at his home in Torquay, Devon, survived by his wife, writer Jane Blanchard, two sons and a stepson.

Obituaries: BBC News Glasgow (7 July); Daily Telegraph (8 July), The Guardian (16 August).

(* Photo found here.)

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