Douglas Sutherland

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For other people of the same name, see Doug Sutherland (disambiguation).

Douglas Chalmers Hutchinson Sutherland (1919 – 28 August 1995) was a British author and journalist, who was born at Bongate Hall, Appleby-in-Westmorland, in 1919. He always joked that the error of judgement in his not being born in Scotland was compensated for a year later by his family's moving to live in the remote island of Stronsay in Orkney.[citation needed]

Background[edit]

The family later moved to Aberdeenshire, and Sutherland followed his elder brother to Trinity College, Glenalmond. He joined the army in 1938 as a Private with the King's Own Scottish Borderers, though Sutherland was later commissioned into the King's (Liverpool) Regiment, and saw active service during the Second World War, for which he was awarded the Military Cross, twice being mentioned in Despatches. In 1945, he was posted to Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery's 21st Army Group Headquarters at Bad Oeynhausen, where he joined the Allied Liaison Branch, and was an observer at the Nuremberg Trials.

Career[edit]

Returning to London at the age of 26, Sutherland would observe that his first challenge as a civilian was sartorial.[citation needed] To this end, he was helped by Oscar Hammerstein, the American lyricist, who was a friend of his first wife Moyra Fraser, then a ballet dancer. Hammerstein presented him with his cast-off suits,[citation needed] and thus attired, he began working as a journalist for the Evening Standard, and later, the Daily Express.

Sutherland's life during this period is affectionately depicted in Portrait of a Decade, where he recalls many of the colourful characters of 1950s London, centred on Muriel Belcher's famous Colony Club in Dean Street, Soho. However, he is best remembered for his best-selling humour series which began with The English Gentleman, and was followed by The English Gentleman's Wife/Child/Mistress, and The English Gentleman Abroad. Although he later claimed that the English Gentleman no longer existed, his observations on the species remain classic period commentaries.[citation needed]

But there was also a deeply serious side to his writing. His highly-acclaimed biographies feature such widely contrasting personalities as the sporting Earl of Lonsdale (The Yellow Earl), and, with Jon Connell, founder of The Week magazine, the life of the international fraudster Emil Savundra, which won the Crime Writer's Silver Dagger Award for the best non-fiction crime book of the year.

In 1963, with Anthony Purdy, he published a book called Burgess and Maclean. At that time he had identified with total certainty that the fourth shadowy figure involved in the notorious spy ring of the 1950s was Sir Anthony Blunt. So sure was Sutherland that in the course of his research he approached Blunt for a meeting over a drink at the Travellers Club in London.[citation needed] Blunt's response was to threaten legal action should his name appear anywhere connected with the case.[citation needed] Further pressure was then placed on the authors from the highest level, and Sutherland and Purdy were obliged to suppress their information for reasons of national security.[citation needed] After Blunt's exposure some twenty years later, Sutherland immediately released The Fourth Man, the first full uncensored account of the intrigue.

Having married three times, Sutherland settled in Scotland with his third wife Diana. His latter years were marred by a dispute over the publishing royalties of the English Gentleman series,[citation needed] and he died at South Queensferry on 28 August 1995. His children include architect Charlie Sutherland, choreographer James Sutherland, comedy performer Jojo Sutherland and curator Adam Sutherland, director of Grizedale Arts.

References[edit]

  • Sutherland, Douglas. The Yellow Earl: The life of Hugh Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale", Cassell, 1965.
  • Sutherland, Douglas. Against the Wind: An Orkney Idyll, Heinemann, 1966.
  • Sutherland, Douglas. Rohallion: Wild Life in a Scottish Home, Heinemann, 1978.
  • Sutherland, Douglas. Sutherland's War, Leo Cooper, 1984.
  • Sutherland, Douglas. Portrait of a Decade: London Life 1945-55, Harrap, 1988.
  • Sutherland, Douglas. Born Yesterday: Memories of a Scottish Childhood, Canongate, 1992.