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James Kennaway (1928-1968) - Novelist

He was born on 5th June 1928 in Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland, the son of a solicitor and a doctor.
He was educated at Trinity College, Glenalmond, and in 1947 was commissioned into the Cameron Highlanders, serving with the Gordon Highlanders in Germany. In 1948 he went up to Trinity College, Oxford, to read philosophy, politics and economics, and on graduating became a publisher in London. Kennaway began writing as an undergraduate, and his first novel, Tunes of Glory, was published in 1956. Set in a Highland regiment, it examines the conflict that arises when two men from different social and military traditions - Jock Sinclair, a hard-drinking Scot who has risen from the ranks, and Basil Barrow a professional with an impeccable military background, vie with one another for the colonelship of the regiment. The mutual antagonism is resolved by Barrow's suicide in the face of Sinclair's stubborn pride and dynamic self-destructiveness, which both repels and attracts his fellow officers. The theme of isolation and mental breakdown is continued in Kennaway's second novel, Household Ghosts (1961), also set in Scotland. One of his most memorable characters, 'Pink' (Charles Henry Arbuthnot Ferguson), lives at second remove from reality in the childhood fantasy and frustrated passion that he shares with his sister Mary. Although the novel is set within the narrow confines of their crumbling aristocratic family, Kennaway centres on the taut, violent relationship that Mary has with the men around her: Pink, her husband Stephen Cameron and her lover David Dow. Household Ghosts was later adapted for the stage (1967) and was made into a film (1969), both with the title Country Dance.

In 1963 Kennaway published two novels, The Mind Benders, a study of brain-washing and interrogation through the use of long periods of isolation, and The Bells of Shoreditch, a stark tale of the corrupting nature of the world of international merchant banking and its destruction of human values. There followed two novels which took triangular relationships as their theme. Some Gorgeous Accident (1967) traces the affairs of Susie, Fiddes and Link, different yet inextricably related characters, each with the ability to create both love and pain in their personal lives; Link, the central character is a monstrous creation caught in the web of his own self-delusion. In The Cost of Living Like This (1969) the relationship between Julian, who is dying of cancer, Christabel his wife. and Sally, a young secretary, is judged by the vivid creation of Mozart Anderson who acts as a puzzled referee over Julian's inevitable slide towards death. As with all Kennaway's novels the action owes more to the strength of the characterization than to the narrative flow of the plot. A posthumous
novel, Silence, was published in 1972. Kennaway also wrote a number of short stories, and film scripts including Violent Playground (1958), Tunes of Glory (1960), The Mind Benders (1962) and Country Dance (1969). He was killed in a motoring accident on 21 December 1968.

Works; Tunes of Glory (1956); Household Ghosts (1961); The Bells of Shoreditch (1963); The Mind Benders (1963); Some Gorgeous Accident (1967); The Cost of Living Like This (1969); Silence (1972); T. Royle, ed.. The Dollar Bottom and Taylor's Finest Hour (1981).

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