Tim Jeal

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Tim Jeal
Publicity picture for Dulwich Festival 2006
Born (1945-01-27) January 27, 1945 (age 71)
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 David Livingstone (1973), Robert Baden-Powell (1989), and Henry Morton Stanley (2007). 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] Jeal is the parent, with his wife Joyce Jeal, of three daughters.[3]


Jeal has been writing books since the 1960s, for London-based publishers.[4] Although most of his works are fictional, he is best known for his biographies.[3]

His first book, Livingstone (1973) became the basis for a BBC TV documentary and a film for the Discovery Channel.[5]

In Baden-Powell (1989), Jeal offers a revisionist account of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, restoring his reputation which had deteriorated during the 20th century.[6] However, Jeal also speculated that Powell was a homosexual, even a repressed one, and this sparked a great deal of attention in the popular press culminating in scouting organizations reissuing an earlier biography of Powell by William Hillcourt to dilute attention and sales of Jeal's book.[7]

The 2007 biography of Henry Morton Stanley was a revisionist account that showed Stanley in a more sympathetic light.[8] Professor John Carey in the The Sunday Times 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.'[citation needed] Tim Gardam in the The Observer said that Jeal had 'fulfilled a mission to rehabilitate one of the most complex heroes of Victorian Britain'.[citation needed] Kevin Rushby in the The Guardian 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.'[9] In the Washington Post Jason Roberts wrote of '...this commanding, definitive biography' being 'an unalloyed triumph...';[citation needed] and in the New York Times Book Review Paul Theroux described it as 'the most felicitous, the best informed, the most complete and readable [biography of Stanley]'.[citation needed] 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. 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."[10]



  • 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)


Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ Jeal, Swimming with my Father, 2004
  2. ^ Author details to Baden-Powell, Pimlico edition, 1991
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ "Books by Jeal, on Amazon UK". Retrieved 25 August 2006. 
  5. ^ "Tim Jeal". faber.co.uk. Retrieved March 13, 2015. 
  6. ^ Steiner, Zara (1 April 1990). "There Is a Brotherhood of Boys". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ Robert Campbell (1993) Origins of the Scouts, Sydney, Australia
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Rushby, Kevin (23 March 2007). "A plinth for the fallen idol". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  10. ^ Makau, Mutua (August 2009). "An Apology for a Pathological Brute". Human Rights Quarterly 31 (3): 806–809. doi:10.1353/hrq.0.0089. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "The Mail on Sunday/John Llewllyn Rhys Prize". Archived from the original on December 4, 2005. Retrieved 9 July 2009. 
  12. ^ "The National Book Critics Circle Award" (no date), NBCC. Retrieved 2008-03-07.