Blakeston, Oswell

Alternative names
Birth 1907
Death 1985
French, German, Italian, Spanish; Castilian, Dutch; Flemish, English

Biographical notes:

English artist and writer.

From the description of Papers, 1927-1985. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 122365919

Oswell Blakeston, artist and writer, was born Henry Joseph Hasslacher on May 17, 1907. His professional life began in the British film industry in which he worked as a camera boy at the Gaumont Studios along with David Lean. This apprenticeship was followed by an editorial position with the small yet influential film magazine, Close-Up (1927-1933), the venue in which Blakeston met contributors such as Bryher, H. D., Robert Herring, and Kenneth Macpherson. At the same time, Blakeston contributed film reviews and articles to other periodicals. Blakeston first tested his directorial skills with the 1929 film, I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside. The following year, with the American photographer Francis Bruguière, he made one of the first abstract films in England, Light Rhythms.

Among his early literary endeavors was the co-editorship (with Herbert Jones) of the little magazine, Seed (1932-1933). Collaborating with Roger Burford under the pseudonym Simon, Blakeston published four mystery novels which received a fair amount of notice: Murder Among Friends (1933); Death on the Swim (1934); The Cat with the Moustache (1935); and The Mystery of the Hypnotic Room (1949). Under his own name, he wrote novels and story collections such as Extra Passenger (1929), Few Are Chosen (1931, with Francis Bruguière), Magic Aftermath (ca. 1932), Jim's Gun (1939), Danger in Provence (1946), Priests, Peters and Pussens (1947), Boys in Their Ruin (1949), Pink Ribbon, as Told to the Police (1950), Hop Thief (1959), The Night's Moves (1961), The Queen's Mate (1962), Fingers (1964), For Crying Out Shroud (1969), Ever Singing Die, Oh! Die (1970), and Pass the Poison Separately (1976). His story Fireworks appeared in the collection Charles' Wain (1933). Other stories appeared in numerous periodicals.

Blakeston's poetry was published in the volumes Poems, a Single Word! (ca. 1930), Death While Swimming (1932), Oswell Blakeston (1956), What the Dino-saur (1960), The Greatest Romantic Poem in the World (1963), How to Make Your Own Confetti (1965), The Furious Futures Dying (1967), Jeremy & Others (1971), Some Essential Information (1975), and Journies End in Young Man's Meeting (1979). Blakeston contributed poems to the collections Proems (1938; contributing editor), Appointment with Seven (1947), and Puppet Dreams (ca. 1976), as well as to periodicals such as Ambit, Jeremy, and Onion.

Blakeston also wrote a number of non-fiction books, including cookbooks, travel books, and books on photography and filmmaking. His published cookbooks include Edwardian Glamour Cooking Without Tears (1960), A Surprise in Every Dinner (1968), and Cooking With Nuts (1979). Holidays and Happy Days (1949), edited and with an introduction by Blakeston, brings together several authors' thoughts on the phenomenon of the vacation. Blakeston's own travel experiences resulted in Portuguese Panorama (1955), Isle of St. Helena (1957), the Finland travelogue Sun at Midnight (1958), and Thank You Now: an Exploration of Ulster (1960). His books on photography include Cruising with a Camera (1939, with F. W. Frerk) and Phototips on Cats and Dogs (1938, with Edwin Smith). Blakeston's published books on filmmaking include the study of cinematography Through a Yellow Glass (1928); Working for the Films (1947), a collection by various authors edited by Blakeston; and How to Script Amateur Films (1949). Two books-- Working Cats (1963) and Zoo Keeps Who? (1964)--further indicate the range of Blakeston's interests. Throughout his career, Blakeston contributed art and book reviews to various periodicals, including Arts Review, John O' London's Weekly, Time and Tide, and What's on in London.

Oswell Blakeston died in 1985.

From the guide to the Oswell Blakeston Papers TXRC95-A128., 1927-1985, (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin)


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  • English fiction--20th century
  • Poets, English--20th century
  • Authors, English--20th century
  • Motion pictures
  • Art--20th century
  • Gay press publications
  • Cooking
  • Gay men's writings, English
  • Cookery
  • Art--England--London--20th century
  • Voyages and travels
  • English poetry--20th century


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  • England--London (as recorded)