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Norman Douglas (George Norman Douglas) Biography

(1868–1952), (George Norman Douglas), Together, English Review, Aaron's Rod, Siren Land

British travel writer and novelist, born at Thüringen in the Vorarlberg, Austria, a region he describes in the autobiographical Together (1923), educated at Uppingham School, which he found uncongenial, and Karlsruhe Gymnasium. Following a period in the British Foreign Service, from 1898 onward he lived chiefly in Capri and Florence. Between 1910 and 1916 he was in London and spent three years as an associate editor of the English Review, becoming closely acquainted with D. H. Lawrence—who based James Argyle in Aaron's Rod (1922) on Douglas—and with Joseph Conrad and other notable writers of the day. Siren Land (1911), a vivid, erudite, and informative evocation of Capri and Sorrento, rapidly gained him a reputation that was enhanced by Fountains in the Sand (1912), on his experiences of Tunisia, and Old Calabria (1915), the account of Southern Italy that is sometimes regarded as his masterpiece. Prompted by Conrad, he wrote South Wind (1917), his first novel; the more formally structured narratives of They Went (1920) and In the Beginning (1927) lacked the attractive vitality of South Wind and by 1930 he had ceased writing fiction. His later works, which sustain the elegance, wit, and urbanity characteristic of his writing, include Summer Islands (1931), on Ischia and Ponza, and the autobiographies Looking Back (two volumes, 1933) and Late Harvest (1946). Among his numerous jeux d'esprit are Some Limericks (1928), originally published privately, and Venus in the Kitchen (1952), a selection of aphrodisiac recipes. Mark Holloway's Douglas: A Biography appeared in 1976.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Hilda Doolittle (H. D.) Biography to Dutch