James Pope-Hennessy

James Pope-Hennessy CVO was an Anglo-Irish biographer and travel writer.

Largely owing to his mother’s influence, he decided to become a writer and left Oxford in 1937 without taking a degree. He went to work for the Catholic publishers Sheed & Ward as an editorial assistant. While working at the company’s offices, in Paternoster Row in London, he worked on his first book, London Fabric (1939), for which he was awarded the Hawthornden Prize. During this period, he was involved in a circle of notable literary figures including Harold Nicolson, Raymond Mortimer, and James Lees-Milne.

James Pope-Hennessy was a British biographer and travel writer. He died in 1974. His friend Maud Russell described him as ‘two characters lodged in one shell, one serious, hardworking, self-critical (so far as his writing was concerned) workmanlike being, and that other self, wild, careless, unheeding.

Books in order of publication:

London Fabric (Dustjacket by Eric Ravilious; 1939, revised 1941)

History Under Fire – 52 Photographs of Air Raid Damage to London Buildings, 1940–41 (With Cecil Beaton; 1941)

West Indian Summer (1943)

The Houses of Parliament. Photographed by Hans Wild. (Introduction; 1946)

America is an Atmosphere (1947)

The Years of Promise (1949)

Beautiful London. 103 photographs by Helmut Gernsheim. (Foreword; 1950)

The Flight of Youth (1951)

Aspects of Provence (1952)

The Baths of Absalom (1954)

Lord Crewe, the Likeness of a Liberal (1955)

Queen Mary (1959)

Queen Victoria at Windsor and Balmoral (1959)

Verandah (1964)

Sins of the Fathers (1967)

Half-Crown Colony: A Hong Kong Notebook (1969)

Anthony Trollope (1971)

Robert Louis Stevenson (1974)

A Lonely Business – A Self Portrait of James Pope-Hennessy (1981). Edited by Peter Quennell.

The Quest for Queen Mary (2018). Edited by Hugo Vickers.

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