Tim Jeal

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Tim Jeal
Publicity picture for Dulwich Festival 2006
Born 27 January 1945
Occupation novelist, biographer
Nationality United Kingdom
Period 1960s–
Genre fiction; biography
Subject notable Victorian men
Notable works Baden-Powell (book)

Tim Jeal (born 27 January 1945 in London, England) is a British novelist, and biographer of notable Victorians. His publications include biographies of Livingstone (1973), Baden-Powell (1989), and Stanley (2007). In 2004 his memoir Swimming with my Father was acclaimed and was shortlisted for the J.R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography. Jeal was formally educated in London and Oxford, and lives in North London. He has a wife and three daughters.

Personal history[edit]

Jeal's mother was Norah Pasley, daughter of Sir Thomas Pasley Bt, and Constance Wilmot Annie Hastings, who was the daughter of the 13th Earl of Huntingdon.[1] Jeal was educated at Westminster School, London, and Christ Church, Oxford. From 1966 to 1970, he worked for BBC Television in the features group.[2] For his third novel, Cushing's Crusade, he was awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1975.[3] Jeal is the parent, with his wife Joyce Jeal, of three daughters.[4]


Jeal has been writing books since the 1960s, for London-based publishers.[5] Although most of his works are fictional, he is best known for his biographies, all of which fundamentally and enduringly changed the way in which his subjects had hitherto been perceived.[4] His new biography of Stanley has attracted interest for its revisionist tendencies.[6] Jane Ridley, writing in the Sunday Telegraph in March 2007, considered that "Tim Jeal's absorbing biography will surely be definitive". Professor John Carey in the Sunday Times (2007-03-18) accepted that Jeal's 'ardent, intricate defence of a man history has damned' had been successful,and concluded: 'Anyone who, after reading this book, imagines they would have behaved better than Stanley, if faced with the same dangers, must have a vivid imagination.' Tim Gardam in the Observer (2007-04-01) felt that Jeal had 'fulfilled a mission to rehabilitate one of the most complex heroes of Victorian Britain'. Kevin Rushby in the Guardian (2007-03-24), said he was 'aware of the dangers of revisionism' and doubted that Stanley was as innocent as Jeal argued. While calling Stanley 'an awesome piece of scholarship executed with page-turning brio,' he expressed doubt that it would be the 'last word on Henry Morton Stanley.'[7] In the Washington Post (2007-12-23), Jason Roberts wrote of '...this commanding, definitive biography' being 'an unalloyed triumph...', and in the New York Times Book Review (2007-09-30), Paul Theroux described it as 'the most felicitous, the best informed, the most complete and readable [biography of Stanley]'. Tim Jeal had unique access to the massive Stanley collection in the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Brussels and saw many letters, diaries and other documents (including correspondence between Stanley and King Leopold of Belgium) unseen by previous biographers. Stanley was named Sunday Times Biography of the Year for 2007 (2007-11-25) and won the American National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography (2008-03-06)

The book had its detractors. One reviewer wrote: "If Jeal’s attempt was the resurrection of a humane Stanley, then I must judge him a complete failure," going on to suggest that "the author should have set aside any biased personal agendas and let history speak for itself. Instead, Jeal writes a political book in defense of a historical monster."[8]



  • For Love or Money (1967)
  • Somewhere Beyond Reproach (1968)
  • Cushing's Crusade (1974)
  • Until the Colours Fade (1976)
  • A Marriage of Convenience (1979)
  • Carnforth's Creation (1983)
  • For God and Glory (1996)
  • The Missionary's Wife (1997)
  • Deep Water (2000)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jeal, Swimming with my Father, 2004
  2. ^ Author details to Baden-Powell, Pimlico edition, 1991
  3. ^ "The Mail on Sunday/John Llewllyn Rhys Prize". Retrieved 9 July 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Steiner, Zara (1 April 1990). "There is a brotherhood of boys, review of Jeal's Baden-Powell book". New York Times. Retrieved 25 August 2006. 
  5. ^ "Books by Jeal, on Amazon UK". Retrieved 25 August 2006. 
  6. ^ Porter, Bernard (5 May 2007). "Did he puff his crimes to please a bloodthirsty readership?, review of Jeal's Stanley". London Review of Books. Retrieved 18 June 2007. 
  7. ^ Rushby, Kevin (23 March 2007). "A plinth for the fallen idol". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Makau, Mutua (August 2009). "An Apology for a Pathological Brute". Human Rights Quarterly 31 (3). Retrieved 17 September 2012.