BBC series reveals novelist Salman Rushdie went into hiding near Saffron Walden

PUBLISHED: 15:52 08 February 2019

Salman Rushdie. Picture: SIMON FINLAY

Salman Rushdie. Picture: SIMON FINLAY

Novelist Salman Rushdie moved into a house near Saffron Walden when he went into hiding, a BBC Radio 4 programme has revealed.

Rushdie’s controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, provoked death threats and a fatwa calling for his assassination was issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on February 14, 1989.

The story of Rushdie is now being told in a ten-part series on BBC Radio 4 called Fatwa, presented by Chloe Hadjimatheou and Mobeen Azhar.

The series reveals that in the first five months after the fatwa was issued, Rushdie stayed in 57 different places, organising accommodation himself.

In episode five, American publisher Bill Buford told BBC Radio 4: “He asked me if I could find him a home and the assumption was that I should find him a home in the countryside. I got him a beautiful house just south of Saffron Walden in Essex, which turned out to be where a lot of the east London gangsters bought their country abodes.

“And every gangster can spot a cop, so when the police, the special branch, went to the pub, everybody knew they were cops, and their cover was blown really quite quickly.”

You can listen to the series by visiting www.bbc.co.uk/sounds.

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