|Born||20 August 1914
London, United Kingdom
|Died||22 April 1976 (age 61)|
|Period||1950s to 1970s|
|Notable work(s)||City of Spades, Absolute Beginners|
MacInnes was born in London, the son of singer James Campbell McInnes and novelist Angela Thirkell, who was the granddaughter of the Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones and also related to Rudyard Kipling and Stanley Baldwin. His family moved to Australia in 1920, MacInness returning in 1930. For much of his childhood, he was known as Colin Thirkell, the surname of his mother's second husband; later he used his father's name McInnes, afterwards changing to MacInnes.
He worked in Brussels from 1930 to 1935, then studied painting in London at the London Polytechnic and the School of Drawing and Painting in Euston Road. Towards the end of his life, he stayed at the home of Martin Green, his publisher,& Martin's wife, Fiona in Fitzrovia,where he spent time, regarding their small family as his own adoptive one until his death. (Inside Outsider by Tony Gould published by Alison & Busby,1983)
He served in the British intelligence corps during World War II, and worked in occupied Germany after VE Day. This led to his first novel, To the Victors the Spoils. Following his return to England, he worked for BBC Radio until he could earn a living from his writing.
He was the author of a number of books depicting London youth and black immigrant culture during the 1950s, in particular City of Spades (1957), Absolute Beginners (1959) and Mr Love & Justice (1960), collectively known as the "London trilogy". Many of his books were set in the Notting Hill area of London, then a poor and racially mixed area, home to many new immigrants and which suffered race riots in 1958. Openly bisexual, he wrote on subjects such as urban squalor, racial issues, bisexuality, drugs, anarchy, and "decadence."
Mr Love & Justice follows two characters, Frank Love and Edward Justice, in late '50s London. Mr. Love is a novice ponce (pimp); Mr. Justice is a cop newly transferred to the plain-clothes division of the Vice Squad. Gradually their lives intermesh. The title of the novel was used for a 2008 album, Mr. Love & Justice, by Billy Bragg. Bragg's previous album England, Half English was also named after a MacInnes book.
Adaptations and influence
- To the Victor the Spoils (1950)
- June In Her Spring (1952)
- City of Spades (1957)
- Absolute Beginners (1959)
- Mr Love & Justice (1960)
- England, Half English (1961) - a collection of previously published journalism
- London, City of Any Dream (1962) - photo essay
- Australia and New Zealand (1964) - Time/Life Volume
- All Day Saturday (1966)
- Sweet Saturday Night (1967) - a History of British music-hall
- Westward to Laughter (1969)
- Three Years to Play (1970)
- Loving Them Both: A Study of Bisexuality (1973)
- Out of the Garden (1974)
- No Novel Reader (1975)
- Out of the Way: Later Essays (1980)
- Absolute MacInnes: The Best of Colin MacInnes (1985)
- Gould, Tony. Inside Outsider: The Life and Times of Colin MacInnes. London: Allison and Busby, 1983.
- University of Rochester Library biographical note
- Nick Bentley, "Writing 1950s London: Narrative Strategies in Colin MacInnes's City of Spades and Absolute Beginners", Literary London: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Representation of London.
- Vulliamy, Ed (15 April 2007), "Absolute MacInnes", The Guardian, retrieved 2008-11-19
- IMDB – Absolute Beginners
- "Absolute MacInnes", Ed Vulliamy, The Observer, 15 April 2007.
- BBC – Saturday Play – City of Spades
- Stewart Home, Tainted Love, Virgin Books, London, 2005.
- Colin MacInnes's 'City of Spades' article on the London Fictions site
- The London of 'Absolute Beginners' on the London Fictions site
- Colin MacInnes at Allison & Busby.