Peter Quennell (Peter Courtney Quennell) Biography
(1905–93), (Peter Courtney Quennell), Criterion, A Superficial Journey through Tokyo and Peking, Cornhill Magazine, History Today
British biographer, critic, and essayist, born at Bickley, Kent, educated at Balliol College, Oxford. From 1925 to 1930 he wrote for the Criterion and other leading periodicals. After holding a professorship in Tokyo, which gave rise to A Superficial Journey through Tokyo and Peking (1932), he returned to literary journalism. He edited the Cornhill Magazine between 1944 and 1951, when he began History Today, which he co-edited until 1979. The narrative fluency and stylistic accomplishment of Byron: The Years of Fame (1935), Byron in Italy (1941), and Caroline of England (1939) established his reputation as a biographer. Four Portraits (1945), his highly regarded treatment of Sterne, Boswell, Wilkes, and Gibbon, and Alexander Pope: The Education of Genius (1968) are among his other biographical studies. His critical works include Baudelaire and the Symbolists (1929) and The Profane Virtues (1945), an assessment of eighteenth-century literature. Among his numerous collections of essays are The Singular Preference (1952) and Casanova in London (1971). The Marble Foot (1976) and The Wanton Chase (1980) are autobiographical.