Freeman Wills Crofts, (born June 1879, Dublin--died April 11, 1957, Worthing, Sussex, Eng.), internationally popular Irish author of detective novels whose tight plots and exact and scrupulous attention to detail set new standards in detective-fiction plotting.Educated in Belfast, Crofts was a railroad engineer in Northern Ireland (1899-1929). During a long convalescence he wrote his first novel, The Cask (1920). Considered a classic of the detective genre, it was followed by more than 30 detective novels, most of which featured Inspector French of Scotland Yard...
Charles Jeremiah Wells, (born 1799?, London, England--died February 17, 1879, Marseille, France), English writer, author (under the pseudonym H.L. Howard) of Joseph and His Brethren: A Scriptural Drama in Two Acts (1823), a long dramatic poem in the style of the Elizabethan dramatists, which enjoyed an immense vogue among the Pre-Raphaelites and their followers after it was praised first by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and then, in 1875, by Algernon Charles Swinburne, who particularly relished the character of Phraxanor (the woman who attempts to seduce Joseph).As a young man, Wells was a member..
John Forster, (born April 2, 1812, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, Eng.--died Feb. 2, 1876, London), writer and journalist, a notable figure in mid-19th-century literary London who, through his friendship with the influential editor Leigh Hunt, became adviser, agent, and proofreader to many leading writers of the day. A close friend and adviser of Charles Dickens, he wrote The Life of Dickens (1872-74).After early contributions to an encyclopaedia and to periodicals, he was editor of The Examiner (1847-55). In 1855 he became secretary to the lunacy commissioners and in 1861 became..
Sir George Grove, (born Aug. 13, 1820, London--died May 28, 1900, London), English writer on music famous for his multivolume Dictionary of Music and Musicians.Grove began his career as a civil engineer and became secretary to the Society of Arts in 1850 and to the Crystal Palace in 1852. He collaborated with William Smith in his Dictionary of the Bible and was largely responsible for organizing the Palestine Exploration Fund in 1865. From 1856 to 1896 he wrote analytical notes for the Crystal Palace concerts; marked by enthusiasm, insight, and thoroughness, these established a standard in..
Edgar Wallace, in full Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace, (born April 1, 1875, Greenwich, London, Eng.--died Feb. 10, 1932, Hollywood, Calif., U.S.), British novelist, playwright, and journalist who was an enormously popular writer of detective and suspense stories.Wallace was the illegitimate son of an actress and was adopted as an infant by a Billingsgate fish porter named George Freeman. He left school at the age of 12 and held a variety of odd jobs until he joined the army at 18; he served in the South African War until 1899, when he became a reporter. He returned to England and produced his first..
Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, pseudonym "q", (born Nov. 21, 1863, Bodmin, Cornwall, Eng.--died May 12, 1944, Fowey, Cornwall), English poet, novelist, and anthologist noted for his compilation of The Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1900 (1900; revised 1939) and The Oxford Book of Ballads (1910).He was educated at Newton Abbot College, Clifton College, and Trinity College, Oxford, where he became lecturer in classics (1886-87). In 1887 he wrote Dead Man's Rock, the first of several novels of Cornwall and the sea. From 1887 to 1892 he worked in London for a publishing firm and as assistant..
Peter Pindar, pseudonym of John Wolcot, (baptized May 9, 1738, Dodbrooke, Devonshire, England--died January 14, 1819, London), English writer of a running commentary in satirical verse on society, politics, and personalities, 1778-1817.After studying medicine at Aberdeen, Scotland, Wolcot went to Jamaica as physician to the governor in 1767. He was ordained in 1769 but then forsook the church. He returned to England in 1772 and practiced medicine in Cornwall until he settled in London in 1781. Despite blindness, he continued to write to the end of his life, producing more than 70 satirical..
Mary Russell Mitford, (born Dec. 16, 1787, Alresford, Hampshire, Eng.--died Jan. 10, 1855, Swallowfield, near Reading), dramatist, poet, and essayist, chiefly remembered for her prose sketches of English village life.She was the only daughter of George Mitford, a dashing, irresponsible character whose extravagance compelled the family, in 1820, to leave their house in Reading (built when Mary, at the age of 10, won GBP20,000 in a lottery) for a labourer's cottage in the nearby village of Three Mile Cross. Thereafter, until his death in 1842, his daughter struggled to provide for him and..
Alan Sillitoe, (born March 4, 1928, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England--died April 25, 2010, London), writer, one of the so-called Angry Young Men, whose brash and angry accounts of working-class life injected new vigour into post-World War II British fiction.The son of a tannery worker, Sillitoe worked in factories from the age of 14. In 1946 he joined the air force, and for two years he served as a radio operator in Malaya. After his return to England, X-rays revealed that he had contracted tuberculosis, and he spent several months in a hospital. Between 1952 and 1958 he lived in France and..
John Taylor, (born Aug. 24, 1580, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Eng.--died December 1653, London), minor English poet, pamphleteer, and journalist who called himself "the Water Poet."The son of a surgeon, Taylor was sent to a grammar school but became, as he said, "mired in Latin accidence" and was apprenticed to a Thames boatman. He served in the navy and saw action at Cadiz (1596) and Flores (1597). Returning to London, he worked as a waterman transporting passengers up and down the River Thames and also held a semiofficial post at the Tower of London for several years. Taylor won fame by making..
Mrs. Humphry Ward, nee Mary Augusta Arnold, (born June 11, 1851, Tasmania, Australia--died March 24, 1920, London, England), English novelist whose best-known work, Robert Elsmere, created a sensation in its day by advocating a Christianity based on social concern rather than theology.The daughter of a brother of the poet Matthew Arnold, she grew up in an atmosphere of religious searching. Her father resigned his position as a school official in Australia to become a Roman Catholic but later returned temporarily to the Anglican Church and settled the family at Oxford. In 1872 she married..
Caroline Norton, original name in full Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Sheridan, (born March 22, 1808, London, England--died June 15, 1877, London), English poet and novelist whose matrimonial difficulties prompted successful efforts to secure legal protection for married women.Granddaughter of the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, she began to write while in her teens. The Sorrows of Rosalie (1829) and The Undying One (1830) caused her to be hailed as a female Byron. In 1827 she made an unfortunate marriage to the Honourable George Norton, whom she left in 1835. In retaliation, Norton brought..
W. Somerset Maugham, in full William Somerset Maugham, (born Jan. 25, 1874, Paris, France--died Dec. 16, 1965, Nice), English novelist, playwright, and short-story writer whose work is characterized by a clear unadorned style, cosmopolitan settings, and a shrewd understanding of human nature.Maugham was orphaned at the age of 10; he was brought up by an uncle and educated at King's School, Canterbury. After a year at Heidelberg, he entered St. Thomas' medical school, London, and qualified as a doctor in 1897. He drew upon his experiences as an obstetrician in his first novel, Liza of Lambeth..
Laurence Oliphant, (born 1829, Cape Town--died Dec. 23, 1888, Twickenham, Middlesex, Eng.), British author, traveller, and mystic, a controversial figure whose quest to establish a Jewish state in Palestine--"fulfilling prophecy and bringing on the end of the world"--won wide support among both Jewish and Christian officials but was thought by some to be motivated either by commercial interests or by a desire to strengthen Britain's position in the Near East.The son of a British official who travelled widely throughout the empire, Oliphant received a desultory education; he was called..
E.M. Forster, in full Edward Morgan Forster, (born January 1, 1879, London, England--died June 7, 1970, Coventry, Warwickshire), British novelist, essayist, and social and literary critic. His fame rests largely on his novels Howards End (1910) and A Passage to India (1924) and on a large body of criticism.Forster's father, an architect, died when the son was a baby, and he was brought up by his mother and paternal aunts. The difference between the two families, his father's being strongly evangelical with a high sense of moral responsibility, his mother's more feckless and generous-minded,..
Sapper, pseudonym of Herman Cyril Mcneile, (born Sept. 28, 1888, Bodmin, Cornwall, Eng.--died Aug. 14, 1937, West Chiltington, Sussex), British soldier and novelist who won immediate fame with his thriller Bull-Dog Drummond (1920), subtitled "The Adventures of a Demobilized Officer Who Found Peace Dull." Sapper published numerous popular sequels, but none had the impact and merit of the original.
Mollie Patricia Panter-Downes, British writer who, although virtually unknown in her homeland, was well respected in the United States for her longtime column in The New Yorker, "Letters from London" (1939-84), which earned immediate acclaim on its debut during World War II; her best-known novel was One Fine Day, 1947 (b. Aug. 25, 1906--d. Jan. 22, 1997).
George Blake, (born Oct. 28, 1893, Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scot.--died Aug. 29, 1961, Glasgow), writer whose most interesting books are the novels he wrote about Clydeside shipbuilders. He describes their life with a realism that played a part in overcoming the tendency of Scottish letters toward a sentimental portrayal of the local scene.Blake worked as a journalist and in a publishing house before becoming a full-time writer. Among his many novels are Vagabond Papers (1922), The Shipbuilders (1935), David and Joanna (1936) and the semiautobiographical work Down to the Sea (1937)...
Wolf Mankowitz, British writer, playwright, and screenwriter who became an authority on and dealer in antique porcelain before gaining renown as the prolific author of such novels as Make Me an Offer (1952), which was filmed and later was staged as a musical, and A Kid for Two Farthings (1953), also filmed; he also wrote screenplays for such films as The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961) and Casino Royale (1967), as well as plays and TV dramas (b. Nov. 7, 1924, London, Eng.--d. May 20, 1998, Durrus, County Cork, Ire.)...
Angela Thirkell, (born Jan. 30, 1890, London--died Jan. 29, 1961, Bramley, Surrey, Eng.), author of more than 30 lighthearted novels about English middle- and upper-class life in Barsetshire dealing with descendants of characters in Anthony Trollope's novels set in the same fictional locale.The daughter of a classical scholar, Thirkell was also the cousin of Rudyard Kipling. Her novels, usually peopled with genteel, snobbish characters, are noted for their gentle irony, absurdity of tone, and understated sophistication. Some of her better known novels include Coronation Summer (1937),..
Frances Catherine Marshall Partridge, British biographer and diarist (born March 15, 1900, London, Eng.--died Feb. 5, 2004, London), documented her experiences on the edge of the Bloomsbury group; beginning in her late 70s she published two volumes of autobiography and six diaries. She was married (from 1933 until his death in 1960) to Ralph Partridge, the "hopelessly heterosexual" man with whom the noted biographer Lytton Strachey had been in love. When Frances Marshall met her future husband, he was married to the artist Dora Carrington, who was, in turn, in love with Strachey and who committed..
N.F. Simpson, in full Norman Frederick Simpson, (born January 29, 1919, London, England--died August 27, 2011), English playwright who achieved spectacular verbal effects by his cunning manipulation of phrasing and his use of outrageous double entendre and, especially, of non sequitur.Simpson was educated at the University of London, and during World War II he served in the Intelligence Corps. After the war he taught and worked in adult education. Simpson's first play, A Resounding Tinkle (1957), illustrates his style of humour. One Way Pendulum (performed 1959) is Simpson's most successful..
William Sansom, (born Jan. 18, 1912, London--died April 20, 1976, London), writer of short stories, novels, and travel books who is considered particularly acute in his dissections of London life and scenes.Educated at Uppingham School, Rutland, Sansom worked in banking and advertising until World War II. After writing some film scripts following the war, he became a full-time writer. His most important novels are The Body (1949), A Bed of Roses (1954), The Loving Eye (1956), and Goodbye (1966). His short stories have been collected in Fireman Flower (1944), Something Terrible, Something..
Anthony Joshua Shaffer, British playwright and screenwriter (born May 15, 1926, Liverpool, Eng.--died Nov. 6, 2001, London, Eng.), delighted audiences with his ingenious comic thriller Sleuth, which played 2,359 performances in London's West End and more than 2,000 performances on Broadway, where it won the Tony Award for best play of 1970. He went on to write the screenplay for the 1972 Oscar-nominated film version. Shaffer devised several additional plays, notably Murderer (1975). He had far greater success, however, with his many other screenplays, including Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy..
Philip Toynbee, (born June 25, 1916, Oxford--died June 15, 1981, St. Briavels, near Lydney, Gloucestershire, Eng.), English writer and editor best known for novels that experiment with time and symbolical elements.Philip Toynbee was the son of the historian Arnold Toynbee and grandson of the classical scholar Gilbert Murray. He was educated at Rugby School and the University of Oxford. In 1938-39 he edited a newspaper, the Birmingham Town Crier. After service in World War II he worked in publishing and, from 1950, was on the editorial staff of the newspaper The Observer.Of Toynbee's experimental,..
Terence Tiller, in full Terence Rogers Tiller, (born Sept. 19, 1916, Truro, Cornwall, Eng.--died Dec. 24, 1987, London), English playwright, translator, and poet whose best verse is noted for its highly wrought form and intense emotional content.Tiller taught medieval history at the University of Cambridge until 1939, when he began lecturing in English history and literature at Fu?ad I University, Cairo. From 1946 to 1976 he was employed by the BBC as a radio writer and producer.Of his major poetry collections, The Inward Animal (1943) and especially Unarm, Eros (1947) contain his most highly..
Auberon Alexander Waugh, British writer and satirist (born Nov. 17, 1939, Dulverton, Somerset, Eng.--died Jan. 16, 2001, Combe Florey, near Taunton, Somerset), simultaneously delighted and outraged readers with acerbic wit and conservative snobbery in his pointed, pithy, and cruelly funny commentaries on British politics and society. The eldest son of novelist Evelyn Waugh, "Bron" published five novels, beginning in 1960, but in 1972 he renounced fiction for journalism. Thereafter, his often vitriolic columns appeared regularly in such publications as The Independent, Daily Telegraph,..
John Wyndham, pseudonym of John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris, (born July 10, 1903, Birmingham, Warwickshire, Eng.--died March 11, 1969, London), English science-fiction writer who examined the human struggle for survival when catastrophic natural phenomena suddenly invade a comfortable English setting.Educated in Derbyshire, Wyndham tried his hand at various jobs, from farming to advertising. During the mid-1920s he wrote short stories for various American pulp magazines, and in 1935 the novels The Secret People and Planet Plane (later retitled Stowaway to Mars) were published..
Olivia Manning, married name Mrs. R.D. Smith, (born March 2, 1908, Portsmouth, Hampshire, Eng.--died July 23, 1980, Ryde, Isle of Wight), British journalist and novelist, noted for her ambitious attempt to portray the panorama of modern history in a fictional framework.Manning, the daughter of a naval officer, produced her first novel, The Wind Changes, in 1937. Two years later she married Reginald Donald Smith, drama writer and producer for the British Broadcasting Corporation. In 1951 she published School for Love, the story of a 16-year-old boy in war-ravaged Jerusalem, notable for..
Sutton Vane, original name Vane Sutton-vane, (born Nov. 9, 1888, England--died June 15, 1963, Hastings, Sussex), English playwright, remembered for his unusual and highly successful play Outward Bound (1923), about a group of passengers who find themselves making an ocean voyage on a ship that seems to have no crew. Slowly they realize that they are dead and bound for the other world, which is both heaven and hell.Vane, who started his career as an actor, was shell-shocked early in World War I. Later in the war he returned to France to perform behind the lines. Back home in England, he began to write..
Sir Hugh Walpole, (born March 13, 1884, Auckland, N.Z.--died June 1, 1941, near Keswick, Cumberland, Eng.), British novelist, critic, and dramatist, a natural storyteller with a fine flow of words and romantic invention.The son of an Anglican clergyman, Walpole was educated at King's School, Canterbury, then at Durham, and finally at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. After unsuccessful attempts at teaching and lay reading in the Anglican church, he devoted himself to writing and to reviewing books. He was knighted in 1937.Walpole's first important works were the novels Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill..
Aubrey Menen, in full Salvator Aubrey Clarence Menen, (born April 22, 1912, London, Eng.--died Feb. 13, 1989, Trivandrum, Kerala, India), British writer whose essays and novels explore the nature of nationalism and the cultural contrast between his own Irish-Indian ancestry and his traditional British upbringing.After attending University College, London (1930-32), Menen worked as a drama critic (1934), stage director (1935-36), and director of a press service (1937-39). When World War II began, he was in India, where he organized pro-Allied radio broadcasts and edited film scripts..
E.F. Benson, in full Edward Frederic Benson, (born July 24, 1867, Wellington College, Berkshire, Eng.--died Feb. 29, 1940, London), writer of fiction, reminiscences, and biographies, of which the best remembered are his arch, satirical novels and his urbane autobiographical studies of Edwardian and Georgian society.The son of E.W. Benson, an archbishop of Canterbury (1883-96), the young Benson was educated at Marlborough School and at King's College, Cambridge. After graduation he worked from 1892 to 1895 in Athens for the British School of Archaeology and later in Egypt for the Society..
Rex Warner, (born March 9, 1905, Birmingham, Warwickshire, Eng.--died June 24, 1986, Wallingford, Oxfordshire), British novelist, Greek scholar, poet, translator, and critic who in his fictional work warned--in nightmarish allegory--against the evils of a capitalist society.After graduating from Wadham College, Oxford (1928), Warner was a schoolteacher in England and Egypt. In the 1940s he served as director of the British Institute in Athens. He moved to the United States in 1961 and was professor of English at the University of Connecticut from 1964 to 1974.Warner wrote only one book..
Ernest Percival Rhys, (born July 17, 1859, London, Eng.--died May 25, 1946, London), English man of letters who, as editor of Everyman's Library, a series of inexpensive editions of world classics, influenced the literary taste of his own and succeeding generations.Although ill health interrupted his education, Rhys showed early promise and an innate love of books. In 1886 he became a poet and free-lance critic and editor in London. He contributed to reviews and to the two volumes published by the Rhymers' Club, of which he, with William Butler Yeats, was a founder-member, and was employed..
Dorothy L. Sayers, in full Dorothy Leigh Sayers, (born June 13, 1893, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Eng.--died Dec. 17, 1957, Witham, Essex), English scholar and writer whose numerous mystery stories featuring the witty and charming Lord Peter Wimsey combined the attractions of scholarly erudition and cultural small talk with the puzzle of detection.Sayers received a degree in medieval literature from the University of Oxford in 1915; she was one of the first women to graduate from that university. Her first major published work was Whose Body? (1923), a detective novel in which Lord Peter first..
R.C. Sherriff, byname of Robert Cedric Sherriff, (born June 6, 1896, Hampton Wick, Surrey, England--died November 13, 1975, London), English playwright and screenwriter, remembered for his Journey's End (1928), a World War I play that won wide critical acclaim.After attending grammar school at Kingston on Thames, Sherriff worked in his father's insurance business until he entered the army in World War I, serving as a captain in the East Surrey Regiment. After the war he worked for several years as a claims adjuster and began to write. He drew on his war experiences in the writing of Journey's..
Eleanor Farjeon, (born Feb. 13, 1881, London--died June 5, 1965, Hampstead, London), English writer for children whose magical but unsentimental tales, which often mock the behaviour of adults, earned her a revered place in many British nurseries.The daughter of a British novelist and granddaughter of a U.S. actor, Eleanor Farjeon grew up in the bohemian literary and dramatic circles of London. Attending opera and theatre at 4 and writing on her father's typewriter at 7, Farjeon came to public attention at 16 as the librettist of an opera, with music by her brother Harry, which was produced..
Joseph Henry Shorthouse, (born Sept. 9, 1834, Birmingham, Warwickshire, Eng.--died March 4, 1903, Edgbaston, near Birmingham), English novelist whose John Inglesant constitutes one of the best examples of the philosophical romance in English literature. Set in England and Italy during the 17th century, the work is concerned with conflicts between church and state, the Church of England and the Roman Catholic church, ritualism and simplicity, and different views of the sacraments, as well as other subjects. Its revenge plot--in which Inglesant pursues his brother's murderer--is less..
Penelope Gilliatt, in full Penelope Ann Douglass Gilliatt, (born March 25, 1932, London, Eng.--died May 9, 1993, London), English writer of essays, short stories, screenplays, and novels. Her fiction is noted for its sensitive, sometimes wry look at the challenges and complexities of modern life in England and the United States.Gilliatt briefly attended Queen's College, London, and Bennington (Vermont) College. After winning a fiction-writing award from British Vogue, Gilliatt joined the magazine's staff and became its features editor. She later worked as a film critic for The Observer..
Sir Peter Quennell, (born March 9, 1905, Bickley, Kent [now in Greater London], England--died October 27, 1993, London), English biographer, literary historian, editor, essayist, and critic, a wide-ranging man of letters who was an authority on Lord Byron.Quennell was educated at Balliol College, Oxford. After practicing journalism in London, he taught at the Tokyo University of Science and Literature in Japan in 1930 but resigned after a year and returned to writing in London. He served as editor of the literary and artistic periodical The Cornhill Magazine (1944-51) and of the monthly..
Sax Rohmer, pen name of Arthur Sarsfield Ward, original name Arthur Henry Ward, (born Feb. 15, 1883, Birmingham, Warwickshire, Eng.--died June 1, 1959, London), internationally popular British writer who created the sinister Chinese criminal genius Fu Manchu, the hero-villain of many novels. The character Fu Manchu later appeared in motion pictures, radio, and television.From childhood Rohmer was interested in ancient Egypt, the Middle East, and the occult. After working briefly in the financial district of London and as a journalist there, his growing interest in East Asia led him into..
C.K. Ogden, in full Charles Kay Ogden, (born June 1, 1889, Fleetwood, Lancashire, Eng.--died March 20, 1957, London), British writer and linguist who originated Basic English (q.v.), a simplified system of the English language intended as a uniform, standardized means of international communication.In 1912 Ogden founded an intellectual weekly, The Cambridge Magazine, to which Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, and other noted literary figures contributed. In 1919 he turned it into a quarterly and, with the literary scholar I.A. Richards, began publishing preliminary sketches..
George Mann MacBeth, (born January 19, 1932, Shotts, Lanarkshire [now in North Lanarkshire], Scotland--died February 16, 1992, Tuam, County Galway, Ireland), British poet and novelist whose verse ranged from moving personal elegies, highly contrived poetic jokes, and loosely structured dream fantasies to macabre satires.MacBeth published his first collection of poetry, A Form of Words (1954), before he graduated from New College, Oxford (1955). By the end of the 1950s he was one of the leading talk-radio producers with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). He persuaded a wide..
Giles Cooper, in full Giles Stannus Cooper, (born Aug. 9, 1918, Carrickmines, County Dublin, Ire.--died Dec. 2, 1966, London, Eng.), one of the most original and prolific writers in Britain for the modern mass communications media.Educated at Lancing College near Brighton and in France, Cooper then studied at drama school and, after military service during World War II, was an actor for several years. In radio, for which he began writing in 1955, he found a medium ideally suited to his talents, and in such successful radio plays as "Mathry Beacon" (1956), "Under the Loofah Tree" (1958), and "Unman,..
Daniel Owen, (born Oct. 20, 1836, Mold, Flintshire, Wales--died Oct. 22, 1895, Mold), writer, considered the national novelist of Wales. He was a natural storyteller whose works, set in his own time, introduced a wealth of vivid and memorable characters that have given him a place in Welsh literature comparable to that of Charles Dickens in English.The son of a coal miner and the youngest of six children, Owen received little formal education and at the age of 12 was apprenticed to a tailor. In 1864 he started to preach, and in the following year he enrolled in Bala Calvinistic Methodist College..
Emeric Pressburger, original name Imre Pressburger, (born December 5, 1902, Miskolc, Hungary--died February 5, 1988, Saxstead, Suffolk, England), Hungarian-born screenwriter who wrote and produced innovative and visually striking motion pictures in collaboration with British director Michael Powell, most notably The Red Shoes (1948).Pressburger studied engineering in Prague and Stuttgart, but in 1925 he went to Berlin, where he became a scriptwriter at the German film company UFA. He settled in Britain (1935) and launched a partnership with Powell with The Spy in Black (1939; U.S...
T. H. White, (born May 29, 1906, Bombay, India--died Jan. 17, 1964, Piraeus, Greece), English novelist, social historian, and satirist who was best known for his brilliant adaptation of Sir Thomas Malory's 15th-century romance, Morte Darthur, into a quartet of novels called The Once and Future King.White was educated at Cheltenham College and at Cambridge. He taught at Stowe School (1930-36), and while there he attained his first real critical success with an autobiographical volume, England Have My Bones (1936). He afterward devoted himself exclusively to writing and to studying such..
Patrick Hamilton, in full Anthony Walter Patrick Hamilton, (born March 17, 1904, Hassocks, Sussex, Eng.--died Sept. 23, 1962, Sheringham, Norfolk), English playwright and novelist, notable for his capture of atmosphere and the Cockney dialect traditionally associated with the East End of London.Hamilton began acting in 1921 and then, fascinated by theatrical melodrama, took to writing. He became known with the novel Craven House (1926). A number of successful motion pictures were based on works by Hamilton. His play Rope (first performed 1929; U.S. title Rope's End) was made into a film..
Sid Chaplin, byname of Sidney Chaplin, (born Sept. 20, 1916, Shildon, Durham, Eng.--died Jan. 11, 1986), British novelist and short-story writer noted for his mastery of detail and local colour in his depictions of working-class life.The son of a coal miner, Chaplin began working in the mines at age 15 and continued to do so while obtaining an education from the Worker's Educational Association of the University of Durham (1932-46) and the Fircroft College for Working Men, Birmingham (1939). He was a branch secretary of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain (1943-45) and finally was able..
Mary Elizabeth Braddon, married name Mary Elizabeth Maxwell, (born October 4, 1837, London, England--died February 4, 1915, Richmond, Surrey), English novelist whose Lady Audley's Secret (1862) was the most successful of the sensation novels of the 1860s.Braddon's mother left her father, a solicitor, when Braddon was four years old. Educated at home, Braddon published her first novel, The Trail of the Serpent, in 1861. In the same year appeared Garibaldi and Other Poems, a volume of spirited verse. In 1862 her reputation as a novelist was made by the success of Lady Audley's Secret. A three-volume..
Thomas Cooper, (born March 20, 1805, Leicester, Leicestershire, Eng.--died July 15, 1892, Lincoln, Lincolnshire), English writer whose political epic The Purgatory of Suicides (1845) promulgated in verse the principles of Chartism, Britain's first specifically working-class national movement, for which Cooper worked and suffered imprisonment.While working as a shoemaker, Cooper read widely, and in 1827 he became a schoolmaster and in 1829 a Methodist preacher. In 1836 he became a journalist, working on newspapers in Lincoln, London, and Leicester, until his embrace of Chartism..
Olaf Stapledon, (born May 10, 1886, Wirral Peninsula, near Liverpool, Merseyside, Eng.--died Sept. 6, 1950, Cheshire), English novelist and philosopher whose "histories of the future" are a major influence on contemporary science fiction.A pacifist, Stapledon served with a Friends' ambulance unit in World War I and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. He received a Ph.D. in philosophy and psychology from the University of Liverpool. In 1929 he published A Modern Theory of Ethics and seemed destined for an academic career, but after the success of his novel Last and First Men (1930), he turned..
Anne Ridler, nee Anne Barbara Bradby, (born July 30, 1912, Rugby, Warwickshire, England--died October 15, 2001, Oxford), English poet and dramatist noted for her devotional poetry and for verse drama that shows the influence of the later work of T.S. Eliot.Ridler was born into a literary family; her father, Henry Bradby, was a poet and editor, and her mother, Violet Milford, was the author of children's books. She studied journalism at King's College, London, graduating in 1932. After a brief stint at Oxford University Press, she began working at the publishing firm Faber & Faber in 1935,..
V.S. Pritchett, in full Sir Victor Sawdon Pritchett, (born Dec. 16, 1900, Ipswich, Suffolk, Eng.--died March 20, 1997, London), British novelist, short-story writer, and critic known throughout his long writing career for his ironic style and his lively portraits of middle-class life.Pritchett left his London school at age 15 to work in the leather trade. He became a full-time journalist in 1922, working as a literary critic for the New Statesman (1926-65) and occasionally writing travel articles for the Christian Science Monitor. Both of these occupations proved fruitful; his journalism..
Walter Allen, in full Walter Ernest Allen, (born Feb. 23, 1911, Birmingham, Eng.--died Feb. 28, 1995, London), British novelist and critic best known for the breadth and accessibility of his criticism.Allen graduated from the University of Birmingham (B.A., 1932) and taught briefly at his old grammar school before accepting the first of several visiting lectureships and professorships in North America and elsewhere. In 1945 he left teaching to become a literary editor for the New Statesman.Early in his career Allen published a rapid succession of novels, beginning with Innocence Is Drowned..
Stella Gibbons, in full Stella Dorothea Gibbons, (born January 5, 1902, London, England--died December 19, 1989, London), English novelist and poet whose first novel, Cold Comfort Farm (1932), a burlesque of the rural novel, won for her in 1933 the Femina Vie Heureuse Prize and immediate fame.The daughter of a London doctor who worked in the poor section of London, she experienced many unhappy years as a child. Depressed by her environment and family life, Gibbons, the eldest of three children, created marvelous fairy tales that she told to her two brothers to help them forget their unhappy situation...
Sir Peter Shaffer, in full Sir Peter Levin Shaffer, (born May 15, 1926, Liverpool, England--died June 6, 2016, Curraheen, County Cork, Ireland), British playwright of considerable range who moved easily from farce to the portrayal of human anguish.Shaffer was educated at St. Paul's School in London and Trinity College, Cambridge. He initially worked at the New York Public Library and for a music publisher. His first staged play, Five Finger Exercise (1958; film 1962), is a tautly constructed domestic drama that almost overnight established his reputation. It was followed by the one-act..
Dame Ivy Compton-Burnett, (born June 5, 1884, Pinner, Middlesex, Eng.--died Aug. 27, 1969, London), English writer who developed a distinct form of novel set almost entirely in dialogue to dissect personal relationships in the middle-class Edwardian household.Compton-Burnett was born into the type of large family she wrote about. She grew up in Richmond, Surrey, and in Hove, Sussex, studying at home until she went to Royal Holloway College of the University of London, where she graduated in 1906. At age 35 she met Margaret Jourdain, her lifelong companion.Pastors and Masters (1925), Compton-Burnett's..
Isabel Colegate, in full Isabel Diana Colegate, married name Briggs, (born September 10, 1931, Lincolnshire, England), British author of novels about life among the upper classes in England during the 20th century.At the age of 19 Colegate began working as an assistant to literary agent Anthony Blond. When Blond became a publisher, one of the first books he brought was Colgate's first novel, The Blackmailer (1958). Her next, A Man of Power (1960), portrays a newly rich businessman who abandons his wife and then is duped by the aristocrat whom he loves. Among her later novels are the partly autobiographical..
Kathleen Raine, in full Kathleen Jessie Raine, (born June 14, 1908, London, England--died July 6, 2003, London), English poet, scholar, and critic noted for her mystical and visionary poetry.Raine studied psychology and the natural sciences at Girton College in Cambridge (M.A., 1929) and in the 1930s was one of a group of Cambridge poets. Inspired by Plato, W.B. Yeats, William Blake, and other mystical and visionary writers, she sought to abandon the everyday world for a world of feeling in her works. Her gift for exactness of observation and precision of diction is evident in her first book..
Sir Malcolm Bradbury, in full Malcolm Stanley Bradbury, (born September 7, 1932, Sheffield, England--died November 27, 2000, Norwich, Norfolk), British novelist and critic who is best known for The History Man (1975), a satirical look at academic life.Bradbury studied at the University of Leicester (B.A., 1953), Queen Mary College (M.A., 1955) in London, and the University of Manchester, from which he received his doctorate in 1964. After traveling in the United States on a fellowship, he taught from 1959, first at the University of Hull, then at Birmingham. In 1965 he joined the faculty..
Anna Harriette Leonowens, nee Anna Harriette Edwards, (born Nov. 6, 1831, Ahmadnagar, India--died Jan. 19, 1915, Montreal, Que., Can.), British writer and governess employed by King Mongkut (Rama IV) of Siam for the instruction of his children, including his son and successor, Prince Chulalongkorn.Edwards spent her childhood in India. She married Thomas Leon Owens, a clerk, in 1849; the two surnames were later merged to form "Leonowens." Following the marriage, the couple spent several years in Australia. While living in Malaysia in 1859, Leonowens was widowed when her husband, who had..
J. B. Priestley, (born Sept. 13, 1894, Bradford, Yorkshire, Eng.--died Aug. 14, 1984, Alveston, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire), British novelist, playwright, and essayist, noted for his varied output and his ability for shrewd characterization.Priestley served in the infantry in World War I (1914-19) and then studied English literature at Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A., 1922). He thereafter worked as a journalist and first established a reputation with the essays collected in The English Comic Characters (1925) and The English Novel (1927). He achieved enormous popular..
Elspeth Josceline Grant Huxley, British writer (born July 23, 1907, London, Eng.--died Jan. 10, 1997, Tetbury, Gloucestershire, Eng.), was the versatile, prolific author of more than 30 books and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. Her wit and sharp insights were evident in works that included biographies, crime novels, memoirs, and travel books. When Huxley was five, her family moved to Kenya, and Africa figured largely in most of her writings. Her best-known work, the autobiographical novel The Flame Trees of Thika (1959), was based on her early years in Kenya. It was a best-seller..
John Bowen, in full John Griffith Bowen, (born November 5, 1924, Calcutta [now Kolkata], India--died April 18, 2019), British playwright and novelist noted for examining the complexity and ambivalence of human motives and behaviour.Bowen was the son of a British business manager working in India. He spent much of his childhood in England but returned to India during World War II, serving as a captain in the Maratha Light Infantry (1943-47). After attending Pembroke and St. Anthony's College, Oxford (B.A., 1951; M.A., 1952), he went to Ohio State University for a year's study. While in the United..
J.G. Farrell, in full James Gordon Farrell, (born Jan. 23, 1935, Liverpool, Eng.--died Aug. 12, 1979, Bantry Bay, Ire.), British novelist who won acclaim for his Empire trilogy, a series of historical novels that intricately explore British imperialism and its decline.Farrell was born to an Irish mother and an English father, and he spent much of his childhood in Ireland. After attending boarding school in Lancashire, Eng., he studied at the University of Oxford, where in 1960 he received a degree in French and Spanish. While teaching at a lycee (secondary school) in France, Farrell started..
William Beckford, (born September 29, 1760, London, England--died May 2, 1844, Bath, Somerset), eccentric English dilettante, author of the Gothic novel Vathek (1786). Such writers as George Gordon, Lord Byron, and Stephane Mallarme acknowledged his genius. He also is renowned for having built Fonthill Abbey, the most sensational building of the English Gothic Revival.Beckford was the only legitimate son of William Beckford the Elder, twice lord mayor of London, and was the heir to a vast fortune accumulated by three generations of his Beckford ancestors, who were sugar planters in Jamaica...