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James Pope-Hennessy (Richard James Arthur Pope-Hennessy) Biography

(1916–74), (Richard James Arthur Pope-Hennessy), Spectator, West Indian Summer, The Baths of Absalom

British biographer and writer on travel and history, born in London, the younger brother of Sir John Pope-Hennessy, educated at Balliol College, Oxford. He was secretary to the Governor of Trinidad and Tobago in 1939 and served in the Intelligence Corps throughout the Second World War. After two years as literary editor of the Spectator, he became a full-time writer in 1949. West Indian Summer (1943) and The Baths of Absalom (1954) draw on his experiences of the West Indies. His other works as a travel writer include London Fabric (1939), a characteristically eloquent account of little-known areas of the city; Aspects of Provence (1952); and Half-Crown Colony (1969), a historical and topographical treatment of Hong Kong. The Years of Promise (1949) and The Flight of Youth (1951), the volumes of his life of Richard Monckton Milnes (180985), established his reputation as a biographer; among his numerous further works are Lord Crewe, the Likeness of a Liberal (1955), Anthony Trollope (1971), and Robert Louis Stevenson (1974). Verandah (1964), a study in colonial history which traces the career of his ancestor Sir John Pope Hennessy (183491), and Sins of the Fathers (1967), a harrowing history of the Atlantic slave trade from 1441 to 1807, are often regarded as his best works. His homosexuality gave rise to the circumstances in which he was murdered in his London flat. A Lonely Business (edited by Peter Quennell, 1974) is a collection of autobiographical fragments.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Ellis’ [Edith Mary Pargeter] ‘Peters Biography to Portrait of Dora (Portrait de Dora)