• Martin Henson

A lost novel coming to light after 35 years

Self portrait by John Henson

My late father, John Henson (self portrait here), was a colourful blend of free spirited artist, successful (if reluctant!) businessman, teacher, musician, raconteur, cartoonist but most memorably, a storyteller.

Retiring at 50 to pursue his love of painting, he left the UK for a life in the Mediterranean, Greece, France and Italy being among his many homes over the following thirty years. I was his artistic agent during his retirement years and we organised many sellout one-man-shows in London, Southern Ireland and Sussex. His clients included Al Fayed (the then owner of Harrods), Peter Mayle (author of A Year in Provence) and many international galleries, while he also provided artwork and cartoons for many publications including Punch magazine in the 1960's. He died in 2016 aged 86.

I was both surprised and delighted when I recently discovered an unknown manuscript of a novel he'd written about thirty five years ago. SIGNED VINCENT had been typed by him, wrapped in a paper and hidden among his many hundreds of paintings and drawings that I have stored at home. It was a wonderful revelation to find his natural storytelling gift worked into a novel that captures his humour and experience of the London art world, in an adventure that takes in the south of France and Greece. It's a story of an unrecorded 'hidden' painting by Van Gogh and a cast of vivid characters that come out of the woodwork once it becomes clear that someone is on a secret mission to retrieve it.

I've transcribed the novel, word for word, into digital format so that any necessary editing can be easily managed, however, to my mind it reads as effortlessly as he would have spoken it.

Whether the literary world agrees with me, is yet to be seen...

Click here see some examples of John Henson's paintings

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