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Author Nicholas Evans who wrote The Horse Whisperer dies aged 72 after suffering heart attack

Author Nicholas Evans, famed for writing The Horse Whisperer, has died aged 72 following a heart attack.

The best-selling author passed away suddenly on Tuesday, his 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.

Such was its popularity, the book was made into a film starring and produced by actor Robert Redford alongside Scarlett Johansson and Sam Neill. 

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 Horse Whisperer, published in 1995, sold around 15 million copies worldwide and was the number one bestseller in 20 countries

Evans went on to write a further four novels – The Loop, The Smoke Jumper, The Divide and The Brave.

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.

From 1982, he began producing art documentaries and worked across a number of films for both television and cinema.

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 posing for a portrait at the annual Oxford Literary Festival held at the Oxford Union in April 2005

Evans posing for a portrait at the annual Oxford Literary Festival held at the Oxford Union in April 2005

‘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.’

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, 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.


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