Francis King

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For the occult writer, see Francis X. King.

Francis Henry King, CBE (4 March 1923 – 3 July 2011)[1] was a British novelist, poet and short story writer. He worked for the British Council for 25 years, with positions in Europe and Japan. For 25 years he was a chief book reviewer for the Sunday Telegraph, and for 10 years its theatre critic.[2]

Early life and Council career[edit]

He was born on 4 March 1923 in Adelboden, Switzerland to a father in the civil service, brought up in India and sent back to England when his father was dying. As a boy, he was shunted around among aunts and uncles.

He was educated at Shrewsbury School and Balliol College, Oxford. During World War II he was a conscientious objector, and left Oxford to work on the land. [3]

After completing his degree in 1949, he worked for the British Council. His positions with them took him to Italy, Salonika and finally Kyoto. In 1964 he resigned to write full-time, by when he had already published nine novels, as well as poetry and a memoir.

Literary career[edit]

He won the W. Somerset Maugham Prize for his novel The Dividing Stream (1951)[4] and also won the Katherine Mansfield Short Story Prize. In 2000, he was awarded the Golden PEN Award by English PEN for "a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature".[5]

His 1956 book The Firewalkers was published pseudonymously under the name Frank Cauldwell.

From 1986 to 1989 he was President of PEN International, the worldwide association of writers and oldest human rights organisation. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and was appointed an Officer (OBE) of the Order of the British Empire in 1979 and a Commander of the Order (CBE) in 1985.[1]

Personal life[edit]

King came out as homosexual in the 1970s. After his long-term partner had died from AIDS in 1988, he described their relationship in Yesterday Came Suddenly (1993). King suffered a stroke in 2005.

Death[edit]

Francis King died on 3 July 2011 at the age of 88.[6]

Works[edit]

  • To the Dark Tower (1946) novel
  • Never Again (1948) novel
  • An Air That Kills (1948) novel
  • The Dividing Stream (1951) novel, 1952 Somerset Maugham Award
  • Rod of Incantation (1952) poems
  • The Dark Glasses (1954) novel
  • The Firewalkers: a Memoir (1956) (wrote under the name Frank Cauldwell)
  • The Man on the Rock (1957) novel
  • The Widow (1957) novel
  • The Custom House (1961) novel
  • The Japanese Umbrella and Other Stories (1964) – short stories
  • The Last Pleasure Gardens (1965)
  • The Waves Behind the Boat (1967) novel
  • Robert de Montesquiou by Philippe Julian (1967) – translator, along with John Haylock
  • The Brighton Belle and other stories (1968)
  • The Domestic Animal (1970) novel
  • Flights (1973)
  • A Game of Patience (1974)
  • The Needle (1975)
  • E.M. Forster and his World (1978) – a biography of the author of A Passage to India and Howards End
  • Act of Darkness (1983)
  • Voices in an Empty Room (1984)
  • Frozen Music (1987)
  • Visiting Cards (1990)
  • Punishments (1989)
  • The Ant Colony (1992)
  • Yesterday Came Suddenly (1993) – autobiography
  • The Nick of Time (2002) novel
  • The Sunlight on the Garden (2006) – short stories
  • With My Little Eye (2007) novel
  • Cold Snap (2009)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ion Trewin and Jonathan Fryer Obituary: Francis King, The Guardian, 3 July 2011
  2. ^ "Obituary of Francis King", The Daily Telegraph, 4 July 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2012
  3. ^ Ian Patterson, "Pacifists and Conscientious Objectors", in Adam Piette and Mark Rawlinson, The Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth-Century British and American War Literature, Edinburgh University Press 2012. ISBN 0748638741 (p. 313).
  4. ^ "Somerset Maugham Award: Past Winners". The Society of Authors. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Golden Pen Award, official website". English PEN. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "Francis King, obit", The Telegraph

External links[edit]

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Per Wästberg
International President of PEN International
1986–1989
Succeeded by
René Tavernier