* Photo supplied. Author Brian Burland, seen here as a young man, died last week at the age of 78.
* Photo supplied. Author Brian Burland, seen here as a young man, died last week at the age of 78.
Provocative, progressive and uniquely gifted, Brian Burland will be remembered as Bermuda's greatest literary talent.

But his work, the only comprehensive body of published literature by a Bermudian author, remains a mystery to many of his countrymen.

Barring the odd second-hand relic, it is not possible to purchase any of his nine novels in a Bermuda bookstore. And though he achieved worldwide critical acclaim and the praise of other writers like Noel Coward and Anthony Burgess, he has not been widely feted within his home country.

That could be about to change following his death last week at the age of 78.

Friends and fellow writers are pushing for a reprint of some of Mr Burland's work. And his family are keen to see them on sale and potentially on the school curriculum in Bermuda.

Mr. Burland - whose most famous novels include The Sailor and the Fox, once slated as a Hollywood movie project for Sean Connery and Love is a Durable Fire - died on February 11 after a long battle with illness.

His novels were lauded in the Observer and the Times Literary Supplement in England. Some even became required reading on college courses in the U.K.

Nephew Alan Burland said: "It is a bit perverse but sometimes when someone dies it serves as a wake up call. Let us hope that Bermuda wakes up to Brian's books. He has left us a legacy, let's take advantage of that."

Long-time friend and fellow writer Ronald Lightbourne believes Mr Burland's novels - particularly his honest portrayal of segregated Bermuda - are particularly relevant to local audiences.

"It would be criminal if another generation of Bermudians grew up without reading his work," said Mr Lightbourne, who would like to see a local reprint of some of the author's work.

"I think that is an effort that is going to be renewed. I hope it will have the effect of bringing Brian to wider knowledge."

Dr. Kim Dismont Robinson, folklife officer for the department of Community and Cultural Affairs, described Mr Burland as a hidden treasure.

She said his work served as an inspiration to many Bermudian writers and backed efforts to make his novels more widely available.

"It would be terrific if that could happen. I don't think he has been as celebrated in Bermuda as he should be. It would be terrific if we could find a way to honour his legacy."

She said her own joy in reading Mr. Burland's novels came from 'seeing Bermuda reflected back to me on the page'.

Mr Burland's novels, published by Penguin and Random House, are now out of print. But most of his titles are available second hand on the Internet.

During his life he spoke of his frustration that his books were not more widely read in Bermuda.

"I'm better at writing books than selling them," he told the Bermuda Sun in an interview in 1995.

He is widely lauded for his far-sighted attitude and honest approach to race relations.

Mr Lightbourne, who as an aspiring poet struck up a friendship with the author, believes his novel The Sailor and the Fox depicts segregated Bermuda better than any history book ever could.

For both his literary talent and his enlightened views, he cites Mr Burland as an inspiration.

"I just loved the fact that there was Brian Burland. If there was Brian Burland there was hope for the island," he said.

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