Constantine Fitzgibbon

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Robert Louis Constantine Lee-Dillon Fitzgibbon (Massachusetts 8 June 1919 - Dublin 25 March 1983) was a historian, translator and novelist.[1]

Birth, family and marriage[edit]

Constantine Fitzgibbon was born in the United States in 1919. His father, Commander Francis Lee-Dillon FitzGibbon, RN, was Irish, his mother, Georgette Folsom, from Lenox, Mass, USA.[2] His parents divorced when he was very young.[1] He was raised and educated in France before moving to England.[3] After leaving the college,Between 1951 and 1960 he resided at Sacombs Ash in Hertfordshire with his wife Theodora FitzGibbon. His good friend Michael Wharton wrote of their turbulent marriage in his books 'The Missing Will' and 'A Dubious Codicil'.

While translating the "Tear in the Ocean" trilogy by Manès Sperber, Fitzgibbon abandoned Communism and became a political conservative.[1] He married his wife Marjorie (née Steele) in 1967. They had one daughter, Oonagh, born 6 February 1968, for whom he wrote the book Teddy in the Tree in 1977. By a previous marriage to Marion (née Gutmann) he had a son, Francis, born 1961. He was half-brother of Louis Fitzgibbon, author of Katyn. The family resided in Killiney in south County Dublin.

Education[edit]

As a teenager, Fitzgibbon was educated at Wellington College, Berkshire which he detested.[1] He also studied at the University of Munich and University of Paris. Fitzgibbon attended Exeter College, Oxford with a modern languages scholarship but left without a degree just before the outbreak of World War II in 1939.[3]

Career[edit]

Fitzgibbon served in the British Army, in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, from 1939 to 1942, before transferring to the United States Army as a staff officer in military intelligence from 1942-46. He worked as a schoolmaster for a short time in Bermuda from 1946–47,[3] at Saltus Grammar School, then as an independent writer. It was here he wrote his first two novels. He lived in Italy and spent many years in England before moving to Ireland in 1965.[3]

Fitzgibbon wrote a number of books, including nine novels. One of the recurring subjects in his work was Nazi Germany.[3]

Politically, Fitzgibbon identified himself as a strong anti-Communist.[2] Fitzgibbon's novel When the Kissing Had to Stop (1963) caused some controversy because of its "anti-CND theme"; the book depicted the Soviet domination of Britain after the country removed its nuclear weapons.[4] An ITV adaptation of When the Kissing Had to Stop caused even more controversy, and one writer called Fitzgibbon a "fascist Hyena". Fitzgibbon responded by writing a series of essays called Random Thoughts of a Fascist Hyena.[1]

FitzGibbon said he was offered, but refused, a job with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) when it was created following World War II. His play, The Devil at Work was produced by the Abbey Theatre in 1971; it was poorly received.[1]

FitzGibbon was a member of the Council of the Irish Academy of Letters and an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Guggenheim Fellow. He later became an Irish citizen and lived in County Dublin.[3]

Philip Toynbee described Fitzgibbon's politics as "free-booting Poujadism" but praised him as "a great admirer of style in life" and his writing as showing "occasionally gusts of common sense".[1]

Publications[edit]

  • The Arabian Bird (1949)
  • The Iron Hoop (1950)
  • Dear Emily (1952)
  • Miss Finnigan's Fault (1953)
  • Norman Douglas (1953)
  • The Holiday (1953)
  • The Little Tour (1954)
  • The Shirt of Nessus (1955)
  • In Love and War (1956)
  • The Blitz (1957)
  • Paradise Lost and More (1959)
  • Watcher in Florence (1959) The Vine Press
  • When the Kissing had to Stop (1960) new edition (posthumous), (1989)
  • Adultery Under Arms (1962)
  • Going to the River (1963)
  • Random Thoughts of a Fascist Hyena (1963)
  • The Life of Dylan Thomas (1965 ed.)
  • Selected Letters of Dylan Thomas (1966 ed.)
  • Through the Minefield (1967)
  • Denazification (1969)
  • High Heroic (a novel about the life of Michael Collins) (1969)
  • Out of the Lion's Paw (1969)
  • London's Burning (1970)
  • Red Hand: The Ulster Colony (1971)
  • The Devil at Work (1971) (play)
  • A Concise History of Germany (1972)
  • In the Bunker (1973)
  • The Life and Times of Eamon de Valera (1973)
  • The Golden Age (1976)
  • Secret Intelligence (1976)
  • Man in Aspic (1977)
  • Teddy in the Tree (1977)
  • Drink (1979)
  • The Rat Report (1980)
  • The Irish in Ireland (1982)
  • and trans from French, German and Italian. Translator of the Rudolf Höß "autobiography". Contributor to Encyclopædia Britannica, newspapers and periodicals in Britain, America and elsewhere

When the Kissing Had to Stop[edit]

This novel was filmed 1962, directed by Bill Hitchcock and starring Denholm Elliott, Peter Vaughan and Douglas Wilmer.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g John Wakeman, World Authors 1950-1970 : a companion volume to Twentieth Century Authors. New York : H.W. Wilson Company, 1975. ISBN 0824204190. (pp. 477-9).
  2. ^ a b Elizabeth Devine, Annual Obituary 1983.St. James Press, 1984. ISBN 0-912289-07-4 (p.155-56).
  3. ^ a b c d e f Constantine Fitzgibbon, Red Hand: the Ulster Colony, Michael Joseph Ltd (1971) ISBN 0-7181-0881-7; flyleaf biography
  4. ^ Frank Parkin, Middle Class Radicalism:The Social Bases of the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Manchester University Press, 1968 ISBN 0719003059 (p.104).
  5. ^ Error - - New York Times
  • Who's Who
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

External links[edit]