Maurice Richardson

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Maurice Richardson (1907–1978) was an English journalist and short story writer.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Richardson was born to a wealthy family.[2] As a child, Richardson was sent to prep school, which he disliked; he later recalled his education in his 1968 book Little Victims.[2][3] He studied at Oxford in the 1920s, where he befriended the poet Brian Howard.[4] After leaving Oxford, he spent some time as an amateur boxer, and wrote his first novel, A Strong Man Needed, a humorous story about a female boxer.[5] Richardson began his journalistic career in the 1930s. After joining the Communist Party,[2] Richardson became a contributor to Left Review [6] and a member of the London-based left-wing Writers and Readers Group which included Randall Swingler, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Mulk Raj Anand, Arthur Calder-Marshall and Rose Macaulay.[7]

In the late 1940s, Richardson became a contributor to the British magazine Lilliput. Here he published a series of humorous fantasy stories about a "Dwarf Surrealist Boxer" named Engelbrecht.[1][8] These tales were illustrated by several noted artists, including Ronald Searle, Gerard Hoffnung and James Boswell.[8] The series was collected in book form as The Exploits of Engelbrecht in 1950;[1] it was later reprinted in 1977 and in a deluxe edition by Savoy Books in 2000.[9] David Langford has praised The Exploits of Engelbrecht for their "enjoyable absurdist humour";[1] J. G. Ballard also admired the stories, describing them as "English surrealism at its greatest. Witty and fantastical, Maurice Richardson was light years ahead of his time. Unmissable." [10]

After leaving the Communist Party in the 1950s,[2] Richardson worked as a book reviewer. Richardson also became known for arranging meetings between himself and other writers in London pubs. Guests at these meetings included Jeffrey Bernard, Daniel Farson, Swingler, Lionel Bart, Frank Norman and Alan Rawsthorne.[11] In the 1960s, he also worked as the Observer's television critic [12][13] and wrote sports journalism for The Guardian.[10] Richardson also wrote a study of snakes, lizards and other reptiles entitled The Fascination of Reptiles.[14]

After Richardson's death, a posthumous collection of journalism, Fits and Starts, was issued. Reviewing Fits and Starts, Mary Manning praised the book, particularly Richardson's essay on the Moors murders, which she described as "a masterpiece in this genre".[2]



  • A Strong Man Needed (1931)
  • My Bones will keep (1932)
  • The Bad Companions (1936)
  • The Exploits of Engelbrecht, abstracted from the Chronicles of the Surrealist Sportsman's Club (1950)
  • Underworld Nights (1956) (published under the pseudonym Charles Raven)


  • London's Burning: An account of the experiences of an Auxiliary Fireman (1941).
  • Thanatos : a modern symposium (with Philip Toynbee) (1963)
  • Little Victims (1968)
  • The Fascination of Reptiles (Illustrated by Shaun Milne ) (1973)
  • Fits & starts : Collected Pieces (introduction by Julian Symons)

As Editor[edit]

  • Novels of Mystery from the Victorian Age (1945). Contains: Sheridan Le Fanu (Carmilla), Anon (The Notting Hill Mystery),

Wilkie Collins (The Woman in White), Robert Louis Stevenson (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. p. 812. ISBN 1-85723-893-1. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Odd Man Out", Mary Manning,Irish Times, August 4th, 1978 (p.11) Review of Fits and Starts.
  3. ^ Leinster-Mackay, Donald P. (1984). The Rise of the English Prep School. Taylor & Francis. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-905273-74-7. 
  4. ^ Taylor, edited by Marie-Jaqueline Lancaster with an introduction by D.J. (2005). Brian Howard : portrait of a failure. London: Timewell Press. p. 120. ISBN 1-85725-211-X. 
  5. ^ "Books in Brief" Irish Independent, October 19th, 1931, (p.4). Review of A Strong Man Needed.
  6. ^ Weatherhead, Andrew Kingsley (1975). Stephen Spender and the Thirties. Bucknell University Press. p. 100. ISBN 0-8387-1370-X. 
  7. ^ Croft, Andy (2003). Comrade Heart A Life of Randall Swingler. Manchester University Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-7190-6334-3. 
  8. ^ a b Cawthorn, James; Moorcock, Michael (1988). Fantasy The 100 Best Books. Xanadu Publications. pp. 139–140. ISBN 0-947761-24-1. 
  9. ^ Drake, Temple; Kerekes, David (2004). Headpress Guide to the Counter Culture A Sourcebook for Modern Readers. Critical Vision. pp. 250–1. ISBN 978-1-900486-35-4. 
  10. ^ a b From the Vault "Two knockout accounts of the CooperAli rematch", May 22, 1966. Report on the event by Hugh McIlvanney and Maurice Richardson. The Guardian, 23 May 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  11. ^ Croft, (p.246).
  12. ^ Rixon, Paul (2011). Critics and Popular Culture: A History of British Television Criticism. I.B.Tauris. pp. 81, 88, 93. ISBN 1-84885-319-X. 
  13. ^ Chapman, James (2002). Saints and Avengers British Adventure Series of the 1960s. I.B.Tauris. p. 142. ISBN 978-1-86064-754-3. 
  14. ^ "Book Review: The Fascination of Reptiles". Pittsburgh Press, March 21, 1974, (p.115).