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James Hilton Biography

(1900–54), Catherine Herself, Storm Passage, The Dawn of Reckoning, Lost Horizon, British Weekly

film lancashire story novels

British novelist, born at Leigh, Lancashire; he grew up in Walthamstow, London, and was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he produced his first novel, Catherine Herself (1920). During the 1920s he worked as a journalist in London and Dublin, writing eleven further novels, among them Storm Passage (1922) and The Dawn of Reckoning (1925), before Lost Horizon made him famous in 1933; this utopian romance of an earthly paradise in the Himalayas gave the term ‘Shangri-La’ to the language. Commissioned to write a story for the British Weekly, he quickly completed the work published independently as Good-Bye, Mr Chips (1934), a disarmingly sentimental account of the life and death of a schoolmaster, which was informed by Hilton's impressions of his father's career in teaching. In 1935 he was invited to Hollywood to participate in the filming of these enormously successful books and remained there for the rest of his life writing for the film industry; he received an Academy Award in 1942 for his work on the film Mrs Miniver. A number of his subsequent novels were adapted for the cinema; these include the story of an amnesiac officer returned from the First World War in Random Harvest (1941) and the narrative of a small Lancashire community in So Well Remembered (1947), which were released as films in 1942 and 1947 respectively. Other later works include Nothing So Strange (1948) and Time and Time Again (1953).

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