John Fowles was the author of The Magus and The French Lieutenant’s Woman and managed to slip both postmodernism and existentialism into his widely read novels.

Fowles, who had just missed the Second World War - he completed his training on 8 May 1945, VE Day - became an English language teacher in Greece before turning to fiction. He managed the difficult task of writing ‘literary’ novels that were also popular. That popularity, especially after the success of the film version of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, could be irksome to a shy man: ‘I know I have a reputation as a cantankerous man of letters and I don’t try and play it down. But I’m not really. I partly propagated it,’ he once told a reporter.