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Beresford, John Davys (1873–1947), novelist and essayist, was born on 7 March 1873 at the rectory, Castor, Northamptonshire, to an evangelically minded couple, the Revd John James Beresford (1822–1897), a Church of England clergyman, and his wife, Adelaide Elizabeth Morgan (b. 1836)...

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Eric Arthur Blair [George Orwell] (1903–1950) by Felix H. Man, c. 1947 © Estate of Felix H. Man / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Blair, Eric Arthur [pseud. George Orwell] (1903–1950), political writer and essayist, was born in Motihari, Bengal, India, on 25 June 1903, the only son of Richard Walmesley Blair (1857–1938), a sub-deputy opium agent in the government of Bengal, and his wife, Ida Mabel Limouzin (1875–1943)...

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Sir Arthur Charles Clarke (1917–2008) by unknown photographer, 1968 Everett Collection / Rex Features

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Clarke, Sir Arthur Charles (1917–2008), science and science fiction writer, was born on 16 December 1917 at 4 Blenheim Terrace, Minehead, Somerset, the eldest of the four children of Charles Wright Clarke (1888–1931) and his wife, (Mary) Nora Jessie, née Willis (1892–1980). His father was a ...

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Common, John William [Jack] (1903–1968), novelist and essayist, was born on 15 August 1903 at 44 Third Avenue, Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, the only son and second of the four children of John Common, engine driver, and his wife, Isabella, née Johnson. He had two younger sisters, ...

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Edward Morgan Forster (1879–1970) by Dora Carrington, 1920 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Forster, Edward Morgan (1879–1970), novelist and essayist, was born on 1 January 1879 at 6 Melcombe Place, Marylebone, London, the only child of Edward Morgan Llewellyn (Eddie) Forster (1847–1880), an architect, and his wife, Alice Clara (Lily) Whichelo (1855–1945); they were married on 2 January 1877. ...

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John Robert Fowles (1926–2005) by Tomas Watson, 2001 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Fowles, John Robert (1926–2005), author and museum curator, was born on 31 March 1926 at Waygate, 37 Fillebrook Avenue, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, the only son and elder child of Robert John Fowles and his wife, Gladys May, née Richards. While his father commuted into ...

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Leslie Poles Hartley (1895–1972) by Mark Gerson, 1954 © Mark Gerson; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Hartley, Leslie Poles (1895–1972), novelist and essayist, was born on 30 December 1895 at Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire, the second of the three children of Harry Bark Hartley (1860–1954), solicitor and director of a brickworks, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Thompson (1863–1948), the daughter of ...

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Kingsley, Henry (1830–1876), novelist and essayist, was born on 2 January 1830 at Barnack, Northamptonshire, near Stamford, the youngest of the eight children of the Revd Charles Kingsley (1781–1860) and his wife, Mary Lucas (1785–1873), daughter of Nathan Lucas of Rushford Lodge, Norfolk...

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Lambton, Antony Claud Frederick, styled Lord Lambton (1922–2006), politician and writer, was born on 10 July 1922 at West Marden Hall, Emsworth, Sussex, the younger son of John Frederick Lambton, fifth earl of Durham (1884–1970), and his first wife, Diana Mary (1901–1924), only daughter of ...

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Colin MacInnes (1914–1976) by John Deakin, 1950s © The John Deakin Collection; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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MacInnes, Colin (1914–1976), novelist and essayist, was the second child and younger son (a daughter died in infancy) of the novelist Angela Margaret Thirkell (1890–1961) and her first husband, James Campbell McInnes (1874–1945), the baritone lieder singer. He was born at 20 The Grove, The Boltons, London...

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Mikes, George (1912–1987), writer and humorist, was born György Mikes on 15 February 1912 in Siklós, Hungary, the son of Alfred Mikes, lawyer, and his wife, Margit, née Gál. During the First World War the family moved to Pécs, where Alfred Mikes worked in a military court; they returned to ...

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Narayanswami, Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer [pseud. R. K. Narayan] (1906–2001), author, was born in Madras, India, on 10 October 1906, the third of eight children of Brahmin parents, R. V. Krishnaswami Iyer, schoolteacher, and his wife, Gnanambal. His formative years were spent not so much with his parents and siblings as in the house of his maternal grandmother in ...

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Auberon Alexander Waugh (1939–2001) by John Swannell, 1982 © John Swannell

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Waugh, Auberon Alexander [Bron] (1939–2001), journalist and author, was born on 17 November 1939 at Pixton Park, Dulverton, Somerset, the country house of his mother's family, the second of six surviving children and eldest of three sons of Evelyn Arthur St John Waugh (1903–1966)...