Legends & Legacies View More

Stephen Gilbert, Ratman Writer

Published: 7/6/2010

Ratmans NotebookStephen Gilbert blew up a bridge to stop advancing Nazis in WWII, ran Britain's most successful independent seed business, founded Northern Ireland's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmarment and was praised by no less than E.M. Forster as "a writer of distinction." But mostly, he is remembered for a story about rats.

Gilbert was the author of 1968's Ratman's Notebooks, a short novel about a lowly office worker and social outcast named Willard who befriends the rats living in his crumbling home and eventually trains them to do his bidding, exacting revenge on his boss and his despised mother. In the end, one particular rat named Big Ben proves a little too smart, and causes the other rats to turn against Willard and attack him.

The novel was first adapted into a film in 1971 (Gilbert wrote the screenplay) and the cult horror classic, renamed Willard was later remade in 2003 in a project starring Crispin Glover.

A sequel to the 1971 film, Ben, featured a theme song by Michael Jackson.

Gilbert's other novels include Monkeyface about an apeboy adapting to life in the suburbs of Belfast, and The Burnaby Experiments, about a millionaire's experiments with psychic phenomenon.

Stephen Gilbert died on June 23, 2010. His death was not widely reported, though the U.K.'s The Independent published an obituary for him over the weekend.

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