News and Views on Tibet

Long-time Tibet supporter, writer Patrick French passes away aged 57

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Author Patrick French in an undated photo (Photo/Alamy)

By Tenzin Nyidon

DHARAMSHALA, March 19: Long-time Tibet supporter, historian, writer and academician Patrick French has passed away aged 57 on Thursday in London, after battling cancer for four years, his wife Meru Gokhale confirmed. 

The 57-year-old author was a long-time supporter and friend of Tibet, the first executive member of the Tibet Support Group UK, Free Tibet Organisation. In 2003, French published his third book, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land, to which the author noted that his interest in Tibet was triggered after he met with the Dalai Lama. Subsequently adding, “the book emerged from a gradual nervousness that the western idea of Tibet, particularly the views of Tibet campaigners, was becoming too detached from the reality of what Tibet was like. So I did a long journey through Tibet in 1999.” 

French was best known for his book Liberty or Death: India’s Journey to Independence and Division, published in 1997, which sold extensively and earned the author both accolades as well as criticisms from the readers. The book was also awarded the Sunday Times Young Author of the Year.  His other works include Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventure (1994) hailed him as “a first-rate historian and storyteller” by Khushwant Singh and his book, The World Is What It Is (2008), was selected as one of the “Ten Best Books of 2008” and was also shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize.

The author’s books are described as intelligent as well as passionate in their approach by The Independent, while The Los Angeles Times remembered French as a ‘scrupulous and disciplined writer.’ 

Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the executive head of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), on his twitter handle wrote, “Learning with deep sadness the passing of Patrick French who was a longtime friend of Tibet, a noted writer and historian whose works have left an indelible mark on the world. Tibetans worldwide mourn his passing and offer our sincere condolence to his bereaved family.” 

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