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Born in January 9, 1923 / Died in August 11, 2011 / United Kingdom / English


Other info : Bibliography

David Kenneth Holbrook was a British writer, poet and academic. From 1989 he was an Emeritus Fellow of Downing College, Cambridge.

David Holbrook was born in Norwich in 1923. He was educated at City of Norwich School and won a scholarship to study English at Downing College, Cambridge for a year in 1941, where he was a pupil of F. R. Leavis. He is sometimes identified as a Leavis disciple, but their relationship was slighter than this might suggest (and also ended angrily, though this is a lesser indication). Holbrook was called up for military service with the British Army in 1942 and served until 1945 as an officer with the East Riding Yeomanry. His novel Flesh Wounds (1966) is a lightly fictionalised account of his D-Day campaign experiences with the East Riding Yeomanry.

In 1945 he returned to Downing to complete his degree, which he did in 1947. In 1946 he made a bleak visit to George Orwell on Jura. The actual reason was to see his girlfriend Susan Watson, who was Orwell's housekeeper, but Orwell assumed it was connected with Holbrook's membership of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and gave him a frosty reception.

After Cambridge he became editor, initially with Edgell Rickword, of the communist cultural periodical Our Time. He then took up teaching positions, for the Workers' Educational Association and then at a secondary school in Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire. He became a full-time writer in the early 1960s. He also renewed links with the University of Cambridge, becoming a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge in 1961, a Fellow of Downing College, Cambridge in 1981 and an Emeritus Fellow of Downing in 1988.

The Associated University Presses marked his seventieth birthday by publishing a Festschrift entitled Powers of Being in October 1995. The book of essays is edited by Edwin Webb, Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Greenwich, and held contributions by sixteen academics and teachers from the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, including a portrait written by Boris Ford. In over thirty years his range of publications was prodigious: from `English for Maturity' (1961), his first book on teaching English, to `Creativity and Popular Culture' (1994), he wrote about literature, culture and education, as well as producing his poetry and his novels. His distinguished literary achievements are here suitably celebrated.

He was a Fellow of the English Association.