Michael Fancourt is an award-winning famous author who plays prominently within The Silkworm.
Fancourt is described as:
“An evil bastard. Never forgets a grudge.” (Christian Fisher)
“Incredibly attractive. Complicated and clever.” (Marguerite, Lucy’s friend and dinner guest)
“Phenomenally arrogant” (Nina Lascelles)
“Not easy to like” (Robin)
“Charming” (Kathryn Kent)
“Terminally touchy about being lower middle class” (Liz Tassel)
He “does not disdain adulation” and has an obvious superiority complex. Fittingly, his persona appears as the character Vainglorious in Bombyx Mori. Physically, Fancourt is described as having an “overlarge head” with a “habitually dour expression” on his “heavy-featured face.”
The only child of an unwed nurse, Fancourt was originally from Slough and attended Oxford University. Early in their careers, Fancourt, Quine and Elizabeth Tassel were close friends and colleagues. For various reasons, these relationships turned sour, and as Fancourt’s literary career climbed, Quine’s fell. Fancourt’s first wife, Elspeth “Ellie” Kerr, committed suicide 25 years previously, supposedly over a parody that was written of her one and only published novel. Fancourt blames Owen Quine for writing the spoof.
At one point in The Silkworm, Fancourt agrees to meet Strike for an interview. They meet at the Groucho Club, where it’s obvious that the condescending Fancourt badly underestimates (“You don’t have the appearance of a man who enjoys arts programs”) Strike’s intelligence and education.
In the TV adaptation of The Silkworm, his character is renamed Andrew Fancourt, for reasons unknown. The character is portrayed by actor Peter Sullivan.