Jack: A Literary Biography of John Connell (John Henry Robertson 1909 1965)

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AuthorHouse, Oct 22, 2010 - Literary Collections - 356 pages
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McMaster University, in Hamilton Ontario acquired the Connell papers, a fascinating archive of political, military and literary matters, particularly relating to Britain, the transition from the British Empire to Commonwealth and the birth of the State of Israel.

These were the working papers accumulated by John Connell, journalist, broadcaster, novelist, poet and biographer at the heart of those changing times from the 1920’s up to the 1960’s. Keen to have a portrait of the man behind the papers, McMaster commissioned Robin Bryer to write his biography to serve the dual role of introducing the student to the archive and the life and work of it’s compiler. From it emerges a picture of a lonely and imaginative small boy who became a clubbable raconteur, fierce ally and doughty foe.

The Duke of Windsor, Churchill, Eden, MacMillan, Welensky, Auchinleck and Wavell are among those that feature, the last three of whom had their first definitive biographies penned by Connell. Any student of the Depression, the Abdication, the War in the Middle East, the first days of Israel, Suez and the last days of Southern Rhodesia will find rich pickings here. Here too is a novelist and poet worthy of a place on the same shelf as Waugh and Auden, who might have been as well known in their fields as they, had he not spread his talents so widely.

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About the author (2010)

Robin Bryer was educated at Dauntsey’s and King’s College, Durham.

His books include Jolie Brise, a Tall Ship’s Tale, critically acclaimed by Hammond Innes and Claire Francis, and A History of Hair, so popular in China it appeared in two separate translations. He was uniquely placed to undertake this work, his mother having worked in S.O.E in wartime Jerusalem with Connell, who was to become his godfather. Research for the book took him from Hamilton to Jerusalem via London and Edinburgh. It also rekindled a friendship with Michael Belkine, Connell’s stepson and leading Israeli intelligence specialist, a driving force behind a project recognizing a mentor in both their lives and a witness of the lives of so many more.

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