Saturday, September 10, 2016
Raymond Vincent Thorp was born in Thornton Heath, Surrey, on 29 September 1930, the son of Alfred Henry Thorp (1882-1953), a house decorator, and Beatrice Alice Stacey (1884-1961), married in 1904, who went on to have six children. Thorp, the youngest of the six, later described his childhood as "Drab, colourless, dismal, best forgotten." His father, who, by the 1930s, ran a tiny building business, died while Thorp was jailed in Brixton.
Soon after, he began dealing in cocaine, was almost sacked from work for smoking hemp, and moved into a bedsit in Bayswater; he moved permanently into a flat the West End in the spring of 1952, from where he dealt hash, hemp and heroin. Thorp was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine, entering a guilty plea when he was charged a week later and sentenced to six months.
After a few month odd-jobbing in Oxford and London, Thorp sold his story to Reynolds News, where he featured on Sunday, 28 November 1954. Derek Agnew, a newspaper journalist, records in Viper that he met Thorp in a rundown flat in Piccadilly in the summer of 1955 and worked with him for some months on the book, which he (Agnew) wrote an introduction and afterword, and almost certainly ghosted the rest.
Viper was published by Robert Hale in 1956.
What became of him after that, I have no idea. A couple of phone book entries list him as living in Bayswater in the early 1980s. He was living at 6 Effra Court, Brixton Hill, London SW2 when he died on 12 September 1990.