Tributes Paid After Death Of Wimbledon BookFest Co-Founder

Arts champion Tony Kane had been a Wimbledon resident for more than 50 years

Tributes have been paid to Tony Kane, the co-founder of Wimbledon BookFest and founder of Time & Leisure, who has died at the age of 80 after a long illness.

Mr Kane, a Wimbledon resident for more than 50 years, founded the popular annual literary festival in 2006 with Fiona Razvi in order to develop arts and culture in the area.

He had been an arts teacher to all ages, retiring from full-time teaching in 1997. He continued to exhibit his work and remained artist in residence to an informal class held in his studio, The Work Shop in Queens Road.

Tony KaneMr Kane (pictured left) was also the author of a series of children's books - The Railway Mice, and If Britain Had Fallen, a novel set in 1940, depicting the fall of Britain to an invasion by Nazi Germany.

He stepped down as Wimbledon BookFest chair in 2016 when he said somebody younger should take over.

The Bookfest now hosts almost 100 events during a 10-day period on Wimbledon Common and has grown from 1,000 visitors in its first year to over 15,000 with 7,000 school children attending the festival last year.

He was also on the Management Committee of William Morris House in Wimbledon town centre and was keen to decorate the House in a style befitting the legacy of William Morris. He was also a moving force and judge at the annual William Morris Arts Award. 

The Time & Leisure Media Group said in a statement: "Tony was passionate about the arts and community, and founded the magazine over 21 years ago to support both, remaining actively involved after his daughter Lucy became owner-publisher 16 years ago.

"His many achievements included co-founding Wimbledon BookFest, and he keenly supported the growth of several arts initiatives including Wimbledon International Music Festival, and Merton Arts Festival to name just a few. He was a brilliant artist – his work illustrating his popular monthly column The Eye; an art teacher; and author, writing and illustrating a series of children’s books. He was also a passionate advocate for the local community.

"He was an inspiration, a great talent, and a thoroughly lovely man, who will be much missed."Tony Kane

He was vice-chair of Wimbledon Labour Party until last year. They tweeted: "He leaves this earth with a legacy of incredible art. Writing, founding @Wimbookfest & @timeandleisure, and was a wonderful person. He will be very much missed, Wimbledon was lucky to have him."

Merton Labour Councillor Martin Whelton said: "He contributed a huge amount to the community in Wimbledon and was a powerful advocate for the local area. RIP Tony."

Friends of Wimbledon Town added: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of our founder member Tony Kane. He did so much for Wimbledon, setting up @Wimbookfest, @timeandleisure and saving the old Town Hall buildings. He will be missed by us all."

December 18, 2018