Readers of Carrie's War, the best-known work by the acclaimed children's author Nina Bawden, are told that she likes travelling to "quite dangerous places". But the journey that proved the most dangerous of all began not in some far-flung corner of the globe but at King's Cross station at 12.45pm on Friday.
It is thought that Ms Bawden, 77, and her husband Austen Kark, 75, a former head of the BBC World Service, were on their way to visit her son Robert, a GP, in Norfolk. But 10 minutes into the journey the train derailed at Potters Bar. Mr Kark was killed and Ms Bawden badly injured. She is now in Barnet Hospital with a broken collar bone and other injuries. Her condition last night was stable.
Ms Bawden is the author of 17 novels for children and 21 for adults. She was made a CBE in 1995. She and Mr Kark had been married for 48 years.
Mr Kark was managing director of the World Service for two years in the mid-1980s before being succeeded by John Tusa. Born in South Africa, he went to Oxford University and joined the BBC in 1954. Most of his BBC career was spent in the World Service, where former colleagues remembered him yesterday as a cultured, stylish figure.
Christopher Bell, who had been Mr Kark's deputy, had seen him for lunch only a week before he died. He remembered someone who had been "very much a programme man, unlike more modern BBC executives. He was a great encourager of young talent." Mark Byford, the director of BBC World Service, said Mr Kark was "one of the all-time greats in the history of the World Service. He served the BBC magnificently for more than 30 years".
Mr Kark's daughter Perdita Kark said in a statement: "My family and I request that our privacy be respected in order that we may be allowed to absorb the enormity of this tragic accident and allow my mother the chance of a full recovery."
Among the other victims were a 25-year-old Cambridge University student, Jonael Schickler; Agnes Quinlivan, 80, a resident of Potters Bar; and Emma Knights, 29, from Cambridgeshire.
Mr Schickler, a German national with a first-class honours degree in philosophy from Sidney Sussex College, was in the third year of a PhD at the university's Faculty of Divinity. A passenger on the train, he died at the scene.
One of his academic supervisors described Mr Schickler as an "intellectually brilliant student" with great "physical energy, a sense of fun, a warm heart and many friends".
Mrs Quinlivan, an Irish-born former district nurse who moved to Potters Bar at the age of 15, was struck by the rear carriage of the train as she waited on the platform. She died several hours later at the Royal Free Hospital, London.
Mrs Quinlivan's daughter, Pat Smith, described her mother as a "well-known character and popular".
Those who survived the crash included another Cambridge student, 20-year-old Daniel Cooney, who is recovering from multiple fractures in the high dependency unit at Barnet General Hospital. During a visit from the Prince of Wales, he told how he adopted a protective posture he had learned while training as a rugby player to help him survive the crash.
Also recovering at the hospital is Jenny Cox, 27, an Australian nurse.
Those recovering at Chase Farm Hospital include Karl Broderick, 44, who was pushing a refreshments trolley along the aisle of the train shortly before the accident. Accompanied by his wife, Lynn, he chatted amiably with Prince Charles during the prince's visit to the hospital. Another injured passenger is Robert Young, a 27-year-old from London.
Last night there were signs of improvement for one of the two most seriously injured survivors. An 18-year-old man who had been in a critical condition at the Royal Free Hospital was said to be making progress.
The other, a woman also aged 18, was still in a "very critical condition".