David Evans writes: Gordon Williams (obituary, 24 August) wrote the two books that made his reputation in the remote mid-Devon village of Hittisleigh, which had a population of 120. He went there from London with his wife, Claerwen, and young family in 1966, on a £20-a-week contract with the publisher Methuen to write novels.
With his insistence on a spare, unsentimental realism based on the model of the Chicago writer Nelson Algren, and a larger-than-life need for convivial company to talk through the night, Gordon was an unlikely inhabitant of a sleepy village where the farming practices bore a closer resemblance to Victorian times than to farming as it is done today.
However, it was living in this village, described as “lying in the foothills of Dartmoor” by the local historian WG Hoskins, that gave Gordon the mischievous idea for The Siege of Trencher’s Farm. This was the story of someone coming off the moor in midwinter to terrorise the locals, which Sam Peckinpah transmuted into Straw Dogs.
While living in Hittisleigh Gordon also wrote From Scenes Like These, his bitter story of the life of an apprentice labourer on a farm outside Glasgow, which reached the Booker prize shortlist in 1969. The two or more years he spent in rural Devon turned out to be life-changing.
Maggie Humm writes: The jazz singer Sandi Russell (Other lives, 30 August) had a unique rapport with audiences with her intimacy and emotional power. Leading British musicians loved her technique: Sandi’s CD Sweet Thunder features a remarkable scat singing duet with Georgie Fame on the track Feet On the Ground.