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Simon Raven (Simon Arthur Noel Raven) Biography

(1927–2001), (Simon Arthur Noel Raven), The Feathers of Death, Friends in Low Places, The Judas Boy

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: David Rabe Biography to Rhinoceros (Rhinocéros)

British novelist, born in London, educated at Charterhouse and at King's College, Cambridge. After a career as an officer in the British Army, Raven began his successful literary career with The Feathers of Death (1959), a novel about homosexuality in the army. A sequence of ten linked novels, ‘Alms for Oblivion’ (196475), which includes Friends in Low Places (1965), The Judas Boy (1968), and Sound the Retreat (1971), humorously portray the outrageous behaviour of upper-class British society and also reveal an underlying concern with the decline of British power and influence. A second sequence of novels, ‘The First Born of Egypt’, including Morning Star (1984), The Face of the Waters (1985), Before the Cock Crows (1986), and The Troubadour (1992), confirmed his reputation as a writer of sardonic comedy. Embellished with exotic setting, scandal, and sex, Raven's novels also deal with traditional subjects like cricket and public schools. His adaptations for television include novels by Aldous Huxley, Iris Murdoch, Nancy Mitford and, notably, Trollope whose Palliser novels he dramatized in 1974. Among his non-fiction works are The English Gentleman (1961; US title The Decline of the Gentleman, 1962), Shadows on the Grass (1982), and the memoirs The Old School (1986) and Bird of Ill-Omen (1989).

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