The world of Simon Raven

Front Cover
Although he gained fame with his classic novel series, Alms for Oblivion, which chronicled the misdeeds of English society in the 1950s and 60s, Simon Raven is also recognized as a brilliant travel writer, an unblinking reporter of the seamier side of English upper-class life, and a hilarious commentator on the sexual mores of gay London. His demise in 2001 robbed English letters of one of its most colorful characters. Expelled from Charterhouse “for the usual thing,” he was, for a time, an officer in the British Army. He gambled heavily on the horses for years, was often in debt, drank too much, and had a rich and uncommonly varied sex life. He was said to possess “the mind of a cad and the pen of an angel,” and this selection of his writing contains a magnificent array of pieces on army life, sex, school days, and travel. The quality of his writing and his fearless descriptions of the habits of the English, and indeed of all mankind, will come as a revelation.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


The Green Years from Shadows on the Grass
Charterhouse Pink I from Shadows on the Grass
Mummys Boy from Shadows on the Grass

8 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2002)

Simon Arthur Noel Raven, December 28, 1927 - May 19, 2001. Simon Raven was born in London on December 28, 1927. His father was independently wealthy from Raven's grandfathers death and his mother was a cross country runner who was once the second fastest woman in England. Raven attended Charterhouse, an exclusive private school which he was expelled from for homosexual activities. He spent some time in the army before heading off to Cambridge where his obvious intelligence was rewarded with a research scholarship to study the influence of the classics on Victorian schools. Eventually the scholarship money ran out, causing Raven to re-enlist in the army, where he served in Germany and Kenya. During his tour, Raven racked up serious gambling debts and the army eventually allowed him to resign rather than face court martial. In 1963, Raven told a publisher about his idea for his famous "Oblivion" series and signed a deal for 5,000 pounds for the entire collection. Raven also dramatized novels and plays for television and constantly chased after money. Raven wrote 36 novels in the satirical style, usually about homosexuality in upperclass English society. He died May 19, 2001 at a London hospital, the cause was unknown. He was 73.

Howard Watson is the author of Bar Style also in the Interior Angles series. He gained a degree at the University of York and a postgraduate diploma in publishing before becoming an editor and writer specialising in the arts and culture. He has contributed to many publications, including Architectural Design, and edited a wide range of titles on architecture, art and theatre.

Bibliographic information