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J. B. Morton (John Cameron Andrieu Bingham Michael Morton) (‘Beachcomber’) Biography

(1893–1979), (John Cameron Andrieu Bingham Michael Morton) (‘Beachcomber’), Sunday Express, Daily Express

British humorist, born in London; he went from Harrow to Worcester College, Oxford, but left after his first year due to family difficulties. Following service on the Western Front and in intelligence during the First World War, he joined the staff of the Sunday Express. In 1924 he took over as ‘Beachcomber’ on the Daily Express from D. B. Wyndham Lewis; he continued to write the column daily until the early 1970s, peopling it with such bizarrely humorous creations as ‘Mr Justice Cocklecarrot’ and ‘Dr Strabismus (Whom God Preserve) of Utrecht’, who respectively provided vehicles for his satires on the British legal system and modern science. Some twenty ‘Beachcomber’ selections were published, among them A Diet of Thistles (1938) and The Tibetan Venus (1951); Michael Frayn edited The Best of Beachcomber (1963, revised 1991). Morton produced a wide range of other writing: his novels include The Barber of Putney (1919), drawn from his experiences on the Western Front, and Maladetta (1932); several early essays were collected as Vagabond (1934); Sobieski: King of Poland (1932) and Marshall Ney (1958) are among the numerous histories and biographies he regarded as his most valuable work. He was a close friend of Hilaire Belloc, of whom he produced a memoir in 1955; as a member of J. C. Squire's literary circle, he is portrayed as ‘Mr Huggins’ in A. G. Macdonnell's England, Their England (1933).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Edgar Mittelholzer Biography to Mr Norris Changes Trains