Mike Rouse: A lifetime's passion for books and literature

Historian Mike Rouse

Historian Mike Rouse - Credit: Archant

Books were a passion for Mike Rouse throughout his life. And Susan Harrison knows of it very well.  

“I worked with Michael Rouse on his Fens End series of books,” says Susan. 

“On school visits together, he would show the children the first few pages of the original manuscript of the first book with my big red line through all of the first page bar three words at the bottom, with a note saying ‘consider starting here’.  

Editor John Elworthy with Mike Rouse earlier this year in Ely. 

Editor John Elworthy with Mike Rouse earlier this year in Ely. - Credit: Archant

“It always made the children laugh, and he’d explain to them that I was much tougher than any teacher, but that this is why writers need editors.  

“It isn’t just about correcting spellings and sorting out your dodgy grammar, it’s about letting them guide you-sometimes gently, sometimes not so much! - through the waffle to focus your thoughts so your story gets told in the best possible way.” 

Susan says: “A couple of weeks ago Mike asked me to take a look at a book of short stories he had written, more Fens End tales.  

“He asked could I turn it round quickly because he knew it was the last thing he’d write and was in a bit of a hurry to get them done.  

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“I did the job, cried pretty much all the way through because a) they’re lovely and b) I couldn’t quite get my head round the idea that the man who has been telling me he’s on his last legs for at least the last decade actually really was.  

Councillor Mike Rouse (pictured) with his new book 'Bernstein's boys' that launches on Saturday Sept

Councillor Mike Rouse (pictured) with his new book 'Bernstein's boys' that launches on Saturday September 4 at 11am. - Credit: Mike Rouse / Visit Ely

“My note to him with the marked-up manuscript was that I felt like a bit of a fraud, that the stories were beautiful and that apart from his everlasting love of the superfluous comma there was very little to be done.  

“And I joked that finally his writing had considerably improved. I hope that other people get to read them soon.” 

She adds: “Just a small part of a fantastic legacy of which his family should be very proud.  

“Can’t quite get my head round the idea that he’s gone- honestly thought he’d outlive everyone!  

Michael Rouse, Cambridgeshire Fens

Michael Rouse, Cambridgeshire Fens - Credit: Contributed

“I, like many others, am going to miss seeing this local legend and one of my greatest sparring partners just about everywhere I turned.  

An early work from Mike Rouse

An early work from Mike Rouse - Credit: Contributed

“Rest well Mr Rouse. Sending love to family and friends.”