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Aldington, Edward Godfree [Richard] (1892–1962), writer, was born on 8 July 1892 at 50 High Street, Portsmouth, the eldest among the two sons and two daughters of Albert Edward Aldington (1864–1921), bookseller and stationer, and later solicitor's clerk and amateur author, and Jessie May Godfree (1872–1954)...

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Alexander Alexander (b. 1781/22) by Thomas Hodgetts, pubd 1830 (after Sir John Watson-Gordon) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Alexander, Alexander (b. 1781/2), soldier and writer, was born in Dundonald, Ayrshire, the illegitimate son of a wealthy Scottish merchant. Almost everything known about him comes from his remarkable autobiography, published in Edinburgh in 1830. After what he recalled as an unhappy childhood marred by physical violence, at the age of eighteen he was sent to work as an overseer on slave plantations in ...

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Allbeury, Theodore Edward Le Bouthillier [Ted] (1917–2005), intelligence officer and novelist, was born on 24 October 1917 at 478 Manchester Road, Stockport, Lancashire, the son of Theodore Allbeury, cotton goods buyer, and his wife, Florence, née Bailey. He had one sister. His father died when ...

Article

Smith, Constance Babington (1912–2000), photographic interpreter and author, was born at Beech Law, Puttenham, Surrey (on the Hog’s Back, in the North Downs), on 15 October 1912, the seventh of ten children of Sir Henry Babington Smith (1863–1923), civil servant and financier, and his wife Lady ...

Article

Francis Espinasse

revised by Philip A. Hunt

Beatson, Robert (1741–1818), writer and army officer, was born at Vicarsgrange, Dysart, Fife, on 25 June 1741, the eldest son of David Beatson (d. 1785) of Vicarsgrange and his wife and cousin, Jean, daughter of Robert Beatson of Kilrie, the descendant of a local laird. His father enjoyed the patronage of the ...

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William Cavendish, first duke of Newcastle upon Tyne (bap. 1593, d. 1676) by Abraham van Diepenbeck [with Bolsover Castle in the background] © Copyright The British Museum

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Cavendish, William, first duke of Newcastle upon Tyne (bap. 1593, d. 1676), writer, patron, and royalist army officer, was born at Handsworth Manor, Yorkshire, and was baptized in the parish on 16 December 1593. He was the second of three children, the first having died in infancy, of ...

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Churchyard, Thomas (1523?–1604), writer and soldier, was born at Shrewsbury, probably in 1523. He claims to have been a gentleman, but there is no evidence of this. The facts of Churchyard's life are uncertain, partly because of the lack of official records, but more because of the erratic quality of the evidence he offers himself. As well as making many references to events in his life in passing, he wrote three wholly or partly autobiographical poems: ...

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Conway, Sir John (d. 1603), writer and soldier, was the son and heir of Sir John Conway of Arrow, Warwickshire, landowner, and Katherine, daughter of Sir Ralph Verney and his wife, Elizabeth. Little is known of his youth or education but he was well read. He was knighted in 1559, on the accession of ...

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Crealock, Henry Hope (1831–1891), army officer, artist, and author, born on 31 March 1831, was the son of William Betton Crealock of Langeston, Littleham, near Bideford. Crealock entered Rugby School in February 1844. He was commissioned in the 90th light infantry on 13 October 1848, and promoted lieutenant on 24 December 1852 and captain on 29 December 1854. On 5 December 1854 he landed at ...

Article

J. M. Rigg

revised by Philip Carter

Elsdale, Robinson (bap. 1744, d. 1783), author and privateer, the son of Samuel and Mary Elsdale, was baptized on 25 December 1744 at Surfleet, Lincolnshire, where his family had long maintained an estate. He entered the navy as a midshipman, but left soon afterwards on account of the slowness of promotion. From 1762 he served in various privateers cruising against the French, chiefly off the coast of ...

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Fermor, Sir Patrick Michael [Paddy] Leigh (1915–2011), special operations officer and author, was born on 11 February 1915 at 20 Endsleigh Gardens, Bloomsbury, London, the younger child and only son of Sir Lewis Leigh Fermor (1880–1954), geologist, and his first wife, Muriel Aileen (otherwise Eileen or Æileen), ...

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Sir Patrick Michael Leigh Fermor (1915–2011) by Joan Leigh Fermor, 1946 © Patrick Fermor Archive, Trustees of the National Library of Scotland

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Gardiner, Richard (1723–1781), writer and army officer, was born on 4 October 1723 at Saffron Walden, Essex, the son of the Revd John Gardiner (d. 1770) and Hannah (d. 1759), daughter of John Turner of Saffron Walden, Essex. He was a pupil at ...

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Gascoigne, George (1534/5?–1577), author and soldier, was the eldest of three children of Sir John Gascoigne (b. in or before 1510, d. 1568) of Cardington, Bedfordshire, and his wife, Margaret (d. 17 Oct 1575), daughter of Sir Robert Scargill of ...

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George Gascoigne (1534/5?5–1577) by unknown engraver, pubd 1576 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Heron, Haly (c. 1550–1591), author and soldier, matriculated in November 1565 as a sizar at Queens' College, Cambridge, whence he graduated BA in 1570. At some point in the 1570s he became tutor to John Kaye the younger, whom he perhaps met at ...

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Kernahan, (John) Coulson (1858–1943), writer and promoter of compulsory military service, was born at 2 Prospect Place, Ilfracombe, Devon, on 1 August 1858, the elder son and third of the eight children of the Revd James Kernahan MA PhD FGS (b. 1825/6)...

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Kyffin, Maurice (c. 1555–1598), author and soldier, is more than likely to have been the son of Thomas Kyffin and Catrin Llwyd, who are known to have had four children. If so, he may have been born before his parents were married. Both his probable parents belonged to landed families in or near ...