Andrew (Annandale) Sinclair Biography
Andrew Sinclair comments:
Nationality: British. Born: Oxford, 1935. Education: The Dragon School, Oxford; Eton College, Berkshire (King's scholar), 1948-53; Trinity College, Cambridge, 1955-58, B.A. (double 1st) in history, 1958; Churchill College, Cambridge, Ph.D. in American history 1962. Military Service: Served in the Coldstream Guards, 1953-55: Ensign. Career: Harkness fellow, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Columbia University, New York, 1959-61; fellow and director of Historical Studies, Churchill College, Cambridge, 1961-63; fellow, American Council of Learned Societies, 1963-64; lecturer in American History, University College, London, 1965-67; managing director, Lorrimer Publishing Ltd., London, 1967-84, and Timon Films, 1969-95. Awards: Maugham award, 1967. Fellow, Royal Society of Literature, 1973; Fellow, Society of American Historians, 1974.
The Breaking of Bumbo. London, Faber, and New York, Simon and Schuster, 1959.
My Friend Judas. London, Faber, 1959; New York, Simon and Schuster, 1961.
The Project. London, Faber, and New York, Simon and Schuster, 1960.
The Hallelujah Bum. London, Faber, 1963; as The Paradise Bum, New York, Atheneum, 1963.
The Raker. London, Cape, and New York, Atheneum, 1964.
Gog. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and New York, Macmillan, 1967.
Magog. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and New York, Harper, 1972.
The Surrey Cat. London, Joseph, 1976; as Cat, London, Sphere, 1977.
A Patriot for Hire. London, Joseph, 1978.
The Facts in the Case of E.A. Poe. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979; New York, Holt Rinehart, 1980.
Beau Bumbo. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1985.
King Ludd. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1988.
The Far Corners of the Earth. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1991.
The Strength of the Hills. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1992.
Uncollected Short Stories
"To Kill a Loris," in Texas Quarterly (Austin), Autumn 1961.
"A Head for Monsieur Dimanche," in Atlantic (Boston), September 1962.
"The Atomic Band," in Transatlantic Review 21 (London), Summer 1966.
"Twin," in The Best of Granta. London, Secker and Warburg, 1967.
My Friend Judas (produced London, 1959).
Adventures in the Skin Trade, adaptation of the work by Dylan Thomas (produced London, 1966; Washington, D.C., 1970). London, Dent, 1967; New York, New Directions, 1968.
Under Milk Wood (screenplay). London, Lorrimer, and New York, Simon and Schuster, 1972.
The Blue Angel, adaptation of the screenplay by Josef von Sternberg, music by Jeremy Sams (produced Liverpool, 1983).
Before Winter Comes, 1969; The Breaking of Bumbo, 1970; Under Milk Wood, 1972; Blue Blood, 1974; Malachi's Grove (The Seaweed Children), 1977.
The Chocolate Tree, 1963; Old Soldiers, 1964; Martin Eden, from the novel by Jack London, 1980.
Prohibition: The Era of Excess. London, Faber, and Boston, Little Brown, 1962; as Era of Excess, New York, Harper, 1964.
The Available Man: The Life Behind the Masks of Warren Gamaliel Harding. New York, Macmillan, 1965.
The Better Half: The Emancipation of the American Woman. New York, Harper, 1965; London, Cape, 1966.
A Concise History of the United States. London, Thames and Hudson, and New York, Viking Press, 1967; revised edition, Thames and Hudson, 1970; London, Lorrimer, 1984.
The Last of the Best: The Aristocracy of Europe in the Twentieth Century. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and New York, Macmillan, 1969.
Guevara. London, Fontana, and New York, Viking Press, 1970.
Dylan Thomas: Poet of His People. London, Joseph, 1975; as Dylan Thomas: No Man More Magical, New York, Holt Rinehart, 1975.
Inkydoo, The Wild Boy (for children). London, Abelard Schuman, 1976; as Carina and the Wild Boy, London, Beaver, 1977.
Jack: A Biography of Jack London. New York, Harper, 1977; London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978.
The Savage: A History of Misunderstanding. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1977.
John Ford: A Biography. London, Allen and Unwin, and New York, Dial Press, 1979.
Corsair: The Life of J. Pierpont Morgan. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and Boston, Little Brown, 1981.
The Other Victoria: The Princess Royal and the Great Game of Europe. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1981; as Royal Web, New York, McGraw Hill, 1982.
Sir Walter Raleigh and the Age of Discovery. London, Penguin, 1984.
The Red and the Blue: Intelligence, Treason and the Universities. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986; Boston, Little Brown, 1987.
Spiegel: The Man Behind the Pictures. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1987; Boston, Little Brown, 1988.
War Like a Wasp: The Lost Decade of the Forties. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1989; New York, Viking Hamilton, 1990.
The Need to Give: The Patrons and the Arts. London, Sinclair Stevenson, 1990.
The Naked Savage. London, Sinclair Stevenson, 1991.
The Sword and the Grail. New York, Crown, 1992; London, Century, 1993.
Francis Bacon: His Life and Violent Times. London, Sinclair Stevenson, 1993; New York, Crown, 1994.
In Love and Anger: A View of the 'Sixties. London, Sinclair Stevenson, 1994.
Arts and Cultures: The History of the 50 Years of the Arts Council of Great Britain. London, Sinclair Stevenson, 1995.
Jerusalem: The Endless Crusade. New York, Crown Publishers, 1995.
Arts and Cultures: The History of the 50 years of the Arts Council of Great Britain. London, Sinclair-Stevenson, 1995.
Che Guevara (with Carlos Olave). Phoenix Mill, Gloucestershire, England, Sutton, 1998.
The Discovery of the Grail. New York, Carroll & Graf, 1998.
Death by Fame: A Life of Elisabeth, Empress of Austria. New York, St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Editor, GWTW [Gone with the Wind]: The Screenplay, by Sidney Howard. London, Lorrimer, 1979.
Editor, The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and Other Stories, by Jack London. London, Penguin, 1981.
Editor, The War Decade: An Anthology of the 1940s. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1989.
Editor, Greece: A Literary Companion. London, John Murray, 1994.
Translator, Selections from the Greek Anthology. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1967; New York, Macmillan, 1968.
Translator, with Carlos P. Hansen, Bolivian Diary: Ernesto "Che" Guevara. London, Lorrimer, 1968.
Translator, with Marianne Alexandre, La Grande Illusion (scenario), by Jean Renoir. London, Lorrimer, 1968.
Old Lines, New Forces edited by Robert K. Morris, Rutherford, New Jersey, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1976.
Director: Films—The Breaking of Bumbo, 1970; Under Milk Wood, 1972; Blue Blood, 1974..
I work between fact and fiction: history and biography, the novel and film. The one informs the other without confusion, I hope. Aging, I find myself admiring professionals, not philosophers. Like the Victorians I have found liberty in writing and in not working for wages. Freedom is having four jobs—and only on hire. Yet age is a stimulus to write only what I want to write, given the tick of time.
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From the beginning Andrew Sinclair established himself as a writer of extraordinary fluency and copiousness, whether in fiction or in American social history. His early novels were light-hearted attempts to capture significant moments in the life of the 1950s: the misadventures of a young National Service officer in the Brigade of Guards in The Breaking of Bumbo (later adventures are recounted in Beau Bumbo), or life in Cambridge when traditional academic forms were coming apart at the seams in My Friend Judas. Sinclair's awareness of social nuance and his ready ear for changing forms of speech made him an effective observer, though at the cost of making these novels soon seem dated. The Project was a deliberate attempt to move to new ground—the moral fable and apocalyptic science fiction—but the result was wooden and contrived. In The Hallelujah Bum Sinclair returned to Ben Birt, the cheerfully iconoclastic hero of My Friend Judas, and thrust him into a thin but fast-moving narrative about driving across the United States in a stolen car. The book was partly a loving evocation of American landscape, and partly an example of a new fictional genre that emerged in the 1960s which showed the impact of America on a visiting Englishman.
Sinclair's next novel, The Raker, was a fresh endeavour to get away from the fictional recreation of personal experience, though it was still a projection of a personal obsession, in this case what Sinclair has described as a preoccupation with death. The Raker is, if anything, too nakedly allegorical, with a strong flavour of Gothic fantasy about it. But it brings together the separate vision of the novelist and the historian, and it is most powerful in its superimposition of the plague-ridden London of the seventeenth century on the modern metropolis. The preoccupation with history and myth in The Raker was fully worked out in Gog.
Compared with the latter, Sinclair dismisses his previous five novels as no more than "experiments in style." "Gog" is a legendary giant of British mythology, personified in the novel by an enormous naked man washed up on the Scottish coast in the summer of 1945. The book is essentially a long picaresque account of his walk to London to claim his inheritance as a representative of the British people. On the way he has many fantastic adventures, some comic, some cruel, but all reflecting Sinclair's extraordinary imaginative exuberance. The journey takes him to many sacred places, such as York Minster, Glastonbury, and Stonehenge, and on one level the story is an exploration of the multi-layered past of England, almost like the excavation of an archaeological site. The richness of content is matched by a great variety of formal device: Gog draws on the techniques of the comic strip and the cinema, as well as those of the novel.
Magog, the sequel, which describes the life and times of Gog's villainous brother in postwar England, is much less interesting. Although an intelligent, inventive and entertaining piece of social satire, it has little of Gog's mythic power. Weaker still was King Ludd, which completed the trilogy with a tale linking such diverse themes as the anti-technology Luddites and the development of the computer.
updated by Judson Knight