Following her husband’s death, Joan Bagley completed and oversaw the posthumous publication of two novels.
The first draft of Night of Error had been completed by Desmond Bagley in 1963, the manuscript needed revision and a second draft was completed in 1966. It was withheld from publication and put aside as Desmond wished to make further revisions. Those revisions were not undertaken until Joan finally got to grips with the novel in August of 1983, four months after her husband’s death. Night of Error was published by Collins in 1984.
Juggernaut, then with the working title of ‘The Road’, had been started by Desmond back in 1970, following the completion of Running Blind. The story ground to a halt just twenty pages, a chapter, from the end. Desmond could find ‘no exit-line’ for the novel and felt that the best thing would be to put the manuscript away and revisit it in a year or two. Other projects took precedence and he never finished it. It was again Joan, in 1984, who tackled the novel after her husband’s death and after re-reading the unfinished work with her husband’s editor, they both felt that it was an exciting story needing only a minimum of revision which would lead up to a new ending. Joan finished the retitled Juggernaut, which was published by Collins in 1985.
Joan Bagley had been an integral part of her husband’s work from the very first novel until the last and faithfully preserved her husband’s literary legacy until her own death on 30th June 1999.
Images © HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
From ‘The Life and Work of Desmond Bagley Exhibition’, first exhibited at the Guille-Allés Library, St. Peter Port, Guernsey – 10th May – 9th June 2018.