Author Nicholas Evans, famed for writing The Horse Whisperer, has died aged 72 following a heart attack.
The best-selling author, screenwriter and journalist passed away suddenly on Tuesday, his literary agency confirmed today.
A statement released this morning said: ‘United Agents are very sad to announce the sudden death of the celebrated best-selling author Nicholas Evans who died suddenly on Tuesday this week following a heart attack, aged 72.’
The Horse Whisperer, published in 1995, sold around 15 million copies worldwide and was the number one bestseller in 20 countries.
It was Evans’ debut novel and follows a complex and talented trainer who is hired to help an injured teenager and her horse back to health after a severe injury.
Such was its popularity, the book was adapted for the big screen three years later by Hollywood star Robert Redford, who starred as the title character, with Scarlett Johansson playing young rider Grace MacLean in her breakout role.
Kristin Scott Thomas starred as her mother, Annie, while Sam Neill played her father, Robert.
Bestselling English author Nicholas Evans poses during a portrait session held in Paris in January 2012
The Horse Whisperer, published in 1995, sold around 15 million copies worldwide and was the number one bestseller in 20 countries
The best-selling author passed away suddenly on Tuesday, his agency confirmed in a statement released this morning
Robert Redford and Kristin Scott Thomas pictured during a scene in the movie adaptation of The Horse Whisperer
Scarlett Johansson (pictured) played the role of young rider Grace MacLean in what was her breakout role
Evans and James Nesbitt sit down for an interviews as part of the Living the Life television programme in 2012
Evans is famed for writing bestselling novel The Horse Whisperer
Dell Publishing agreed to pay 3.15 million US dollars (£2.1 million at the time) for the North American rights to the film.
Born in Worcestershire in 1950, he went on to study law at Oxford University before graduating with first-class honours.
He worked as a journalist at the Evening Chronicle in Newcastle before moving into television.
Evans produced films about US politics and the Middle East for current affairs show Weekend World.
By the 1980s he was at London Weekend Television, producing films on Sir Laurence Olivier, Francis Bacon and David Hockney for The South Bank Show.
But while living in the south west of England, he met a blacksmith and learned about horse whisperers who can supposedly heal traumatised horses.
The idea stemmed into the bestselling book, which has now been translated into 36 languages.
Writing for The Daily Mail in November 2020 about the book, he said: ‘Usually, writing a novel is like climbing a mountain: it’s slow and arduous and you can easily get lost.
‘But with The Horse Whisperer I could see the story laid out before me, like stepping stones across a river. All I had to do was put one foot in front of the other.
I became aware I was telling an ancient kind of tale — the kind human beings have told each other for millennia.
Evans pictured at his home near Totnes, Devon, in 2010. The famed author passed away following a heart attack on Tuesday
Evans posing for a portrait at the annual Oxford Literary Festival held at the Oxford Union in April 2005
Hollywood star Robert Redford starred as the title character of the film three years after the book was published
Evans also worked across a number of films for both television and cinema before writing the famous novel
‘It is about good people being plunged into a dark vortex of pain. In the end, a hand of love reaches in to rescue and uncloud them. Think of the angel saving Daniel in the lions’ den.
‘For the sake of those who have yet to read the book, I won’t say much more. All I’d add is that it isn’t a book about horses. It’s about us, and how easy it is for all of us to get lost and clouded and separated from the things that really matter.
‘And how, if we get lucky, a pure and selfless love can save us.’
Writing about the movie adaptation on his website, Evans revealed that he did not think the second half of the movie ‘worked’,
He said: ‘Although I think Robert Redford did a marvelous job with the horse work and the whole look of the picture (and the acting, of course, was fabulous), I don’t think the second half of the movie really worked.
‘It kind of got itself lost. I don’t think they ever really had the script right before they started shooting and once you’ve started there is never enough time to fix it.
‘The ending, in my opinion, completely missed the point of the book.’
He went on to write a further four novels – The Loop (1998), The Smoke Jumper (2001), The Divide (2005) and The Brave (2010).
Evans and his family became ill in 2008 after suffering a near-fatal reaction when they ate the deadly webcap mushroom – mistaking it for harmless ceps.
The author, his singer-songwriter wife Charlotte along with her brother and sister-in-law suffered kidney failure and endured dialysis following the incident.
Mr Evans was saved after nearly three years of been on a waiting list when his only daughter gave him one of her kidneys in a live donation.
Evans pictured at his home in Totnes, Devon, in September 2010
Evans and his family became ill in 2008 after suffering a near-fatal reaction when he cooked them deadly mushrooms
Evans, then 61, said his daughter’s donation – which took place at Hammersmith Hospital last July – had given him his life back.
It was Evans himself who had picked the mushrooms from his brother-in-law’s 13,000-acre Scottish Highlands estate and then cooked them before serving them up to his family.
He had mistakenly harvested a crop of deadly webcaps while he was staying with his brother-in-law, Sir Alastair Gordon-Cumming, and his wife Lady Louisa.
After sautéeing them with butter and parsley he served them for dinner to his wife Charlotte and hosts. The following day they were all admitted to hospital.
In an interview following the incident Nicholas said: ‘I took the mushrooms back to the house, showed them around and the general comment was, “Fantastic!”
‘So I cut them up and cooked them in butter and parsley. The four adults ate them sitting outside. They tasted slightly bitter but Alastair and I had lots, the two women not so many.
‘Luckily none of the four children [Nick and Charlotte have a six-year-old son, Finlay, and their hosts have three children] wanted to try them.
‘Doctors told us afterwards that if they had, the mushrooms would have killed them.’
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