This is a translation of the in memoriam that appeared on the website of KATHO Polytechnic, Department of Teacher Training, Torhout, Belgium.
In Memory of Jan MarkOn Sunday 15 January 2006 Jan Mark, one of the most intelligent and best of British youth writers died unexpectedly in her terraced house in Oxford. She was 62. Jan Mark is a familiar name in the English department of our teacher training college. Every two years she came to Torhout to give her unique lectures that entertained the students but also made them think. A whole generation of secondary-school teachers was introduced to (youth) literature through her short stories and novels.
Jan Mark was a writer who didn't want to make it easy for her readers. They had to be taught to think critically. In spite of the surprising and often open endings of her novels she managed to make her name in the world of Anglo-Saxon youth literature. She was especially appreciated by readers who make high demands on what they read and on themselves.
Peter Hunt, in his impressive study Children's Literature, writes that "Jan Mark represents the best of what is being eroded." Her books still honour the traditional literary values and don't underestimate the reader. Her "unusual intellectual toughness" (Chevalier) makes her books always a little more valuable than many books written by many of her colleagues.
In the obituary that appeared in The Independent on 18 January 2006, Nicholas Tucker concludes that "As a writer able to produce a succession of brilliant, stand-alone novels, each one perfect in itself, she is irreplaceable." We have to add to this that she excelled as least as much in writing short stories. But the reason why she is so irreplaceable for us is not only her quality as a writer. We were at least as charmed by her character, her openness, her accessibility, her friendliness and her wit.
The department of teacher training - the students as well as the lecturers - will miss her.