|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (April 2014)|
Childhood and formative years
Hastings was sent to Stonyhurst, a Jesuit boarding school, at age seven. (His grandfather and his father also attended Stonyhurst.) At one point he contracted pneumonia, but his troubles went greatly unnoticed. The school matron reportedly waved him off and ignored the issue while a priest gave him the last rites. He had some positive experiences, such as uncovering a natural faculty for public oration. Mac's father was a journalist and a playwright.
Hastings's father, Basil Macdonald Hastings (20 September 1881 – 21 February 1928), died at age 46, leaving young "Mac" and his mother essentially poor. He returned home from boarding school, no longer able to pay his tuition, and despite offers from family friends who wished to help him complete his schooling, Hastings refused and went in search of work to support himself and his mother. He worked briefly as a clerk at Scotland Yard, but disliked the position. After several months, he moved on to J. Lyons, a catering company where he worked in the publicity department and remained for the next nine years.
While working at Lyons, Hastings began to branch out, writing journalistic pieces and freelancing them to various news corporations, including the BBC. After nine years at Lyons, he left to pursue freelance journalism. Aged 26, he briefly wed a woman twice his age. Despite the brevity of the marriage, he was required to pay his ex-wife “maintenance” for nearly the rest of his life.[why?]
His career took off in 1939 when he was hired by Picture Post, a magazine known for on location reporting and live-action photography. During World War II, he wasa reporter for the magazine, embedded in torpedo boats to Channel convoys. He notably covered Operation Overlord, earning a reputation simultaneously for courage and for rashness.
From 1945-50, Hastings edited The Strand Magazine from 1945 until its closing in 1950, when he became a freelance journalist again Over the next ten years or so, he wrote many articles, ten novels, and did broadcasting with the BBC. In 1951, he served as "Special Investigator" for the Eagle. Reportedly making around 5,000 pounds a year by 1952, Hastings was doing very well for himself and his family.
He married Anne Scott-James, a columnist and later magazine editor. They had two children: Max and Clare. Max followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as a journalist. Macdonald and Anne Hastings eventually divorced.[when?]
Macdonald "Mac" Hastings occasionally contributed fictional work to Lilliput, a literary magazine, under the pseudonym of Lemuel Gulliver. Hastings was editor of the Strand Magazine between 1946 and 1950, after which he was recruited by an Anglican priest, Marcus Morris, to write for a new boys' comic, The Eagle. He joined in 1951, and filed reports from far-flung parts of the world under the title of Eagle Special Correspondent. He was a co-founder/editor of the fortnightly Country Fair.
He wrote around thirty books, was author of a series of detective novels and appeared on television as a weekly correspondent on Tonight in the late 1950s and early 1960s. After his divorce, he subsequently married Anthea Joseph; they had one daughter, Harriet, who became founder and managing director of Biscuiteers.
Macdonald Hastings described himself as a "lapsed" Catholic but added that "[S]aintly men and women in my family outnumber the sinners." He recalled that his great grandfather had taught in the Jesuit foundation at Georgetown, Virginia. Two brothers of his great great maternal grandmother were also Jesuits in the United States. His favourite uncle, Major Lewis Hastings, MC, was there, too, and also contributed to the other family tradition as a famous BBC military commentator in World War II.
- Hastings, Sir Max (21 February 2010). "Selfish and reckless - but Max Hasting's daredevil father was a hero to him and every other schoolboy in Britain". London: Associated Press Ltd.
- Profile, catholicherald.co.uk; accessed 2 April 2014.