I’m not sure how to feel about this

Whitbread award winning author Joan Brady has won her long-running battle against a shoe manufacturing company on the grounds that toxic fumes affected her ability to work, and while I think it’s great she won, the subtext, as reported by the Times, makes me a bit put out:

A prize-winning novelist has won a settlement of more than £100,000 after she

claimed to have become so intoxicated by fumes from a nearby shoe factory

that she was reduced to writing thrillers.

Joan Brady, who beat Andrew Motion and Carol Anne Duffy to win the Whitbread

Prize in 1993 with her book The Theory of War, has received £115,000 in an

out-of-court settlement after she suffered numbness in her hands and legs

allegedly caused by solvents used by Conker, a cobbler based next to her

home in Totnes, Devon.

She told The Times that the fumes were so bad that she was unable to

concentrate on writing her highbrow novel, Cool Wind from the Future, and

instead wrote a brutal crime story, Bleedout,

which she found easier. The violent plot of the book also allowed her to

vent her frustrations on the factory and South Hams District Council, which

failed initially to detect the smells. According to Nielsen Book-scan,

Bleedout has sold a respectable 10,000 copies.

I reviewed BLEEDOUT when it came out in the US about three years ago and liked it well enough. But the whiff of snobbery seems all the more unseemly since Brady’s working on a sequel to the book at the moment.

UPDATE: The Guardian’s Mark Lawson tackles this very subject.