Pudney, John, 1909-1977

Variant names
Birth 1909-01-19
Death 1977-11-10

Biographical notes:

British poet, novelist, and editor.

From the description of Papers, 1850-1977 (bulk 1926-1976). (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 122692658

John Sleigh Pudney, British poet, novelist, editor, and journalist was born on January 19, 1909, in Langley, Buckinghamshire, England. The only son of Henry William Pudney and Mabel Sleigh Pudney, he was reared in the country, but was sent away for his education to Gresham's Hall, Holt. At Gresham's Hall Pudney became friends with W. H. Auden and Benjamin Britten. Pudney left school at sixteen, however, to work for an estate agency and to pursue his interest in writing. His first volume of poetry, Spring Encounter (1933), ushered Pudney into the literary circle of Lady Ottoline Morrell. In 1934 he married Crystal Herbert, with whom he had two daughters and a son. At this time Pudney also began his professional writing career in earnest as writer-producer for the BBC (1934-1937), and as a journalist for the News Chronicle. In 1938 Pudney published the first of many novels, Jacobson's Ladder.

In 1940 Pudney was commissioned into the Royal Air Force as an intelligence officer and as a member of the Air Ministry's Creative Writer's Unit. During World War II Pudney published articles for this organization and wrote considerable poetry, including his famous ode to British airmen, For Johnny. This poem achieved national significance and was broadcast and performed by several famous actors including Sir Laurence Olivier. After the war Pudney continued to write in various media and genres as well as work as literary advisor, editor, and director for several magazines, agencies, and publishing companies, including the News Review (1948-1950), Evans Brothers, Ltd. (1950-1953), and Putnam & Co., Ltd. (1953-1963). In 1949 he began editing an annual anthology entitled Pick of Today's Short Stories (1949-1963). In 1952 Pudney published The Net, his most successful novel.

After 1965 Pudney focused on the subject of recovery (from divorce and alcoholism), producing several articles and the autobiographical Thank Goodness for Cake (1978). In 1967 he married his second wife, Monica Forbes Curtis, and renewed his career with poetry readings accompanied by jazz musicians. During 1966-1967 he continued to write poems, two of which appeared in the Times Literary Supplement after his death on November 10, 1977.

From the guide to the John Pudney Papers TXRC95-A1., 1850-1977, (bulk 1926-1976), (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin)

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