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Jocelyn Brooke Biography

(1908–66), The Military Orchid, A Mine of Serpents, The Goose Cathedral, Private View, The Scapegoat

British novelist, born at Sandgate, Kent, educated at Worcester College, Oxford. He worked in the book and the wine trades, and served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the Second World War. Brooke's novels explore the public school world, with its post-educational bastions, the army, the Foreign Office, the artistic professions, and homosexuality. The Military Orchid (1948), a fictionalized memoir, confirmed him as an accute observer of the natural world; it became the first part of ‘The Orchid’ trilogy with A Mine of Serpents (1949) and The Goose Cathedral (1950). Private View (1955), a semi-memoir, is composed of four portraits including the memorable ‘Gerald Brockhurst’, public school athlete. More orthodox fiction includes The Scapegoat (1948), which focuses on sado-masochism; The Image of a Drawn Sword (1950), a Kafkaesque quasi-fantasy of the army; The Passing of a Hero (1953); and Conventional Weapons (1961). Brooke also wrote a study of the British orchid, critical appreciations of Elizabeth Bowen and John Betjeman, and edited the works of Denton Welch. His reputation sank after his death but revived during the early 1980s under the championship of Anthony Powell.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Bridgnorth Shropshire to Anthony Burgess [John Anthony Burgess Wilson Burgess] Biography