R. C. Sherriff

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R. C. Sherriff
R. C. Sherriff.jpg
Born Robert Cedric Sherriff
(1896-06-06)6 June 1896
Hampton Wick, Middlesex, England
Died 13 November 1975(1975-11-13) (aged 79)
Kingston upon Thames, England
Occupation Playwright and screenwriter
Nationality British
Period 1920s to 1960s
Magnum opus Journey's End

Robert Cedric Sherriff, FSA, FRSL (6 June 1896 – 13 November 1975) was an English writer best known for his play Journey's End,[1] which was based on his experiences as a captain in World War I. He wrote several plays, novels, and screenplays, and was nominated for an Academy award and two BAFTA awards.

Early life[edit]

Sherriff was born in Hampton Wick, Middlesex to insurance clerk Herbert Hankin Sherriff and Constance Winder.[2] He was educated at Kingston Grammar School in Kingston upon Thames from 1905-1913.[n 1]

After he left school, Sherriff worked in an insurance office as a clerk (from 1914) and as an insurance adjuster (1918 to 1928) at Sun Insurance Company, London. Sherriff served (1915 to 1918) as a captain in the 9th battalion of the East Surrey Regiment in World War I, taking part in the fighting at Vimy Ridge and Loos. He was severely wounded at Passchendaele near Ypres in 1917.[4] He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in action during the war.[2]

Sherriff studied at New College, Oxford from 1931 to 1934. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Society of Antiquaries of London.



He first wrote a play to help Kingston Rowing Club raise money to buy a new boat. His seventh play, Journey's End, was written in 1928 and published in 1929 and was based on his experiences in the war. It was given a single Sunday performance, on 9 December 1928, by the Incorporated Stage Society at the Apollo Theatre, directed by James Whale and with the 21-year-old Laurence Olivier in the lead role. In the audience was Maurice Browne who produced it at the Savoy Theatre where it was performed for two years from 1929.


Sherriff also wrote prose. His own novelised version of Journey's End was published in 1929. His 1939 novel, The Hopkins Manuscript is an H. G. Wells-influenced post-apocalyptic story about an earth devastated because of a collision with the Moon. Its sober language and realistic depiction of an average man coming to terms with a ruined England is said to have been an influence on later science fiction authors such as John Wyndham and Brian Aldiss. The Fortnight in September, an earlier novel, published in 1931, is a rather more plausible story about a Bognor holiday enjoyed by a lower-middle-class family from Dulwich. His 1936 novel Green Gates is a realistic novel about a middle-aged couple, Tom and Edith Baldwin, moving from an established London suburb into the then-new suburbs of Metroland.

Award nominations[edit]

Sherriff was nominated along with Eric Maschwitz and Claudine West for an Academy award for writing an adapted screenplay for Goodbye, Mr. Chips which was released in 1939. His 1955 screenplays, The Dam Busters and The Night My Number Came Up were nominated for best British screenplay BAFTA awards.[5]



Film scripts[edit]


Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ Sherriff maintained close links with the school for the rest of his life. He sent a copy of Journey's End to the headmaster after the play was first performed in 1928, and was a generous benefactor to the school until his death, paying particularly close attention to the school rowing club, whose supporters' club now bears his name. He financed a number of boats named after his plays ("Journey's End", "White Carnation", "Home at Seven", "Long Sunset" and "Badger's Green"). He also purchased a piece of land at the end of Aragon Avenue in Thames Ditton for the purpose of building a school boathouse,[3] which was completed in 1980.


  1. ^ Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 264. ISBN 1-84854-195-3. 
  2. ^ a b UK Public Records Office, BDM Certificates[page needed]
  3. ^ "Boathouse history". KGS Sherriff Club. Retrieved 19 September 2015. 
  4. ^ Sheriff (1968), pp. 14, 22
  5. ^ Glancy, H. M. (2008). "Writers and Production Artists: R. C. Sherriff". film reference. Retrieved 2008-11-05. 

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