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P. H. Newby (Percy Howard Newby) Biography

(1918–1997), (Percy Howard Newby), A Journey to the Interior, Agents and Witnesses, The Picnic at Sakkara

British novelist, born in Crowborough, Sussex, educated at Hanley Castle Grammar School, Worcester, and St Paul's College, Cheltenham. His experiences as a lecturer in English at Fouad I University in Cairo (19426) strongly inform his fiction, in which Egyptian and Mediterranean settings recur. In 1949 he joined the BBC as a producer in the Talks Department, rising to become Managing Director of Radio before his retirement in 1978. The themes of the struggle for self-knowledge and the clash of mutually incomprehensible cultures in A Journey to the Interior (1946), his first novel, remain central to much of his subsequent work. Agents and Witnesses (1947), The Picnic at Sakkara (1955), A Guest and His Going (1959), and Something to Answer For (1968), for which he received the first Booker Prizer in 1969, reflect the turbulent post-war politics of Egypt and the Arab world in narratives successfully combining farce and underlying seriousness. More subdued forms of humour interact with analysis of middle-class attitudes in his novels with British settings, which include The Snow Pasture (1949), A Season in England (1951), The Barbary Night (1964), and One of the Founders (1965). His numerous other novels include Revolution and Roses (1957), Kith (1977), Leaning in the Wind (1986), and Coming in With the Tide (1990). Notable among Newby's other publications are the historical works The Warrior Pharaohs (1980) and Saladin in His Times (1980). The autobiographical Feelings Have Changed (1981) is an account of his experiences at the BBC.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Mr Polly to New France