The Listener


The Listener was a weekly magazine, established in 1929 under the chairmanship of Lord Reith. It was designed to complement the BBC’s educational output and covered a wide range of topics. It drew extensively from the BBC’s broadcasting output, often reprinting talks programmes or supplementing them with further illustrations and information. The magazine was a controversial move by the BBC. Other magazine proprietors criticised the corporation for encroaching on territory beyond its remit. As a compromise, the magazine was only allowed to commission ten per cent original content and could only feature a limited amount of advertisements.

The magazine built its reputation on its intellectual and artistic output with its focus on broadcasting matters, the arts, intellectual life and politics. By 1948 it attracted a readership of 153,000. It featured contributions from a wide range of artists scientists and intellectuals, such as E. M. Forster, George Orwell, Laurence Binyon, Herbert Read, William Rothenstein and Mulk Raj Anand. In the 1940s it published many items originally broadcast to India by the BBC's Indian Section of the Eastern Service. It featured reviews of Indian authors and also provided comprehensive survey pieces on Indian art, history, and religion.

The magazine covered extensively the constitutional crises from the Round Table Conference to Indian independence with a view of providing a balanced overview of the issues. Politicians and activists from all sides were given a voice, either as part of round table discussions or articles. During the Second World War, the magazine became a useful propaganda tool, reporting extensively on the Indian contribution to the war effort.

After heavy losses the BBC decided to close down the publication in January 1991.


Watson, Francis, ‘The Case of Jamini Roy’, The Listener (9 May 1946), p. 620


Francis Watson’s article coincided with an exhibition of Roy’s work at the Arcade Gallery in 1946. He traces here the late success of the artist and discusses his artistic merit in the face of his newly-found commercial success. This orginally commissioned article (rather than a reprinted broadcast) is an example of the variety of reporting in a main-stream magazine like The Listener.

Date began: 
16 Jan 1929

He certainly abandoned the academic European traditions as unsatisfactory and irrelevant; but the other road - the road that starts with a dogmatic ‘Indianisation’ of theme and concentration on line rather than form, and ends in so many cases in meretricious insipidity – this road Jamini Roy declined to take; or rather, having followed it a little way and seen where it led, he turned back and found his own way.
He had to return only to his point of departure. When you first see a Jamini Roy painting (and you can do so in London now, for an Exhibition of his work was opened by E. M. Forster at the Arcade Gallery on 25 April), though you recognise what is loosely called the ‘primitive’ appeal, you are unlikely to think immediately of a particular example of Bengal folk-art, since it is a fairly safe assumption that you have not come across any. But, if having seen a Jamini Roy exhibition or visited his house, you should find your way to the folk-art rooms in the Ashutosh Museum at Calcutta, you will see drawings and paintings that almost bear his signature, and you will find that they have been collected from remote villages by the industrious curator...That is where he got it from; from his own people, and they got it from their fathers and from their grandfathers unto many generations.

I am not sure which I like best about Jamini Roy, the way he has created a market or his cheerful readiness to blow the bottom out of it.

Key Individuals' Details: 

Publisher: British Broadcasting Corporation

Editors: Richard S. Lambert (1929-39), Alan Thomas (until 1959),  J. R. Ackerley (Literary editor 1935-1959)


Contributors: Mulk Raj Anand, W. G. Archer, C. F. Andrews, Laurence Binyon, Edmund Blunden, H. N. Brailsford, Robert Bridges, Agatha Christie, Indira Devi of Kapurthala, Bonamy Dobree, George Dunbar, T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Roger Fry, Eric Gill, Robert Graves, Desmond Hawkins, Laurence Housman, Aldous Huxley, Julian Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, C. L. R. James, J. M. Keynes, The Aga Khan, George Lansbury, Harold Laski, John Lehmann, Wyndham Lewis, Henry Moore, Edwin Muir, Ruby Navalkar, Firoz Khan Noon, George Orwell, Herbert Read, William Rothenstein, Bertrand Russell, V. Sackville-West, George Bernard Shaw, Edith Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell, Stephen Spender, Cornelia Sorabji, Dylan Thomas, Edward Thompson, H. G. Wells, Rebecca West, Leonard Woolf.

Date ended: 
30 Jan 1991
Archive source: 

Biritish Library Newspapers, Colindale, London

Books Reviewed Include: 

Ali, Ahmed, Twilight in Delhi. Reviewed by Edwin Muir.

Anand, Mulk Raj, The Hindu View of Art. Reviewed by Herbert Read.

Anand, Mulk Raj, The Sword and the Sickle. Reviewed by Edwin Muir.

Anand, Mulk Raj, and  Fingh, I. (eds), Indian Short Stories. Reviewed by Sean O'Faolain.

Andrews, C. F., Mahatma Gandhi: His Own Story. Reviewed by S.K. Ratcliffe.

Menen, Aubrey, The Prevalence of Witches. Reviewed by Francis King.

Narayan, R. K., An Astrologer's Day. Reviewed by P.H. Newby.

Narayan, R. K., The Bachelor of Arts. Reviewed by Edwin Muir.

Narayan, R. K., The English Teacher. Reviewed by Edwin Muir.

Rolland, Romain, Prophets of the New India. Reviewed by S. K. Ratcliffe.


Savoy Hill
London, WC2R 0BP
United Kingdom

G. V. Desani


G. V. Desani was born in Nairobi, Kenya, where his parents were working as wood merchants. The family returned to Karachi in 1914, where Desani was educated. He arrived in Britain at the age of 17, to escape from an arranged marriage. When he arrived in England in 1926, he was befriended by George Lansbury, who helped him acquire a reader's pass to the British Museum Reading Room. During this period he also found work as an actor in films. Furthermore, he worked as a foreign corespondent for a number of Indian newspapers and news agencies, such as the Associated Press, Reuters and The Times of India. He returned to India in 1928, touring Rajasthan, on which he subsequently lectured extensively for the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway Company.

Desani returned to Britain in the summer of 1939, only weeks before the outbreak of the Second World War.  He continued to work as a writer, journalist, and broadcaster for the Indian Section of the BBC Eastern Service and the Home Division. Desani broadcast both in Hindustani and in English and was praised for his wit, humour and ability as a script-writer. He also acted in radio plays. Furthermore, Desani lectured for the Ministry of Information and the Imperial Institute, regularly touring the regions and speaking to soldiers, schools and university colleges. These lectures featured as one of his Talks Programmes in Hindustani, titled 'My Lecture Tours' (broadcast 8 May 1943). They were widely praised and drew large audiences.

During this period, he wrote his best known work of fiction, the experimental novel All About Mr. Hatterr (later republished and revised as All About H. Hatterr). On publication the book was very well received by critics. For example, T. S. Eliot praised it as a remarkably original book: 'It is amazing that anyone should be able to sustain a piece of work in this style and tempo and at such length'. The critic C. E. M. Joad compared the book to 'Joyce and Miller with a difference: the difference being due to a dash of Munchhausen and the Arabian Nights'.  With its inventive use of language and its endorsement of hybridity, the work is a trailblazer for the fiction of Salman Rushdie, who has acknowledged its influence.

While in England, Desani also published his ‘poetic play’ Hali, as well as short fiction, sketches and essays. Shortly after the publication of Hali, Desani left Britain and returned to India. He was offered a position as cultural ambassador for Jawaharlal Nehru, however he did not take this up. In 1959 he travelled to Burma to study Buddhist and Hindu culture. During the 1950s and 1960 he wrote a regular column, 'Very High, Very Low', as well as articles for The Times of India and Illustrated Weekly of India. In 1967 he was appointed Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin, a position he held until his retirement in 1978. He spent the final years of his life in Dallas.

Published works: 

All About Mr. Hatterr, A Gesture (London: Aldor, 1948); revised edition published as All About H. Hatterr (London: Saturn Press, 1949)

Hali: A Poetic Play (London: Saturn Press, 1952)

Hali and Collected Stories (Kingston, NY: McPherson & Co., 1991)

Date of birth: 
08 Jul 1909

Mulk Raj Anand, A. L. Bakaya (BBC), Edmund Blunden,  Z. A. Bokhari, Ronald Boswell (BBC), Malcolm Darling (BBC), T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, Attia HosainC. E. M. Joad, George Lansbury, L. F. Rushbrook Williams, Una Marson, Narayana Menon, Jawaharlal Nehru, George Orwell, Raja Rao, M. J. Tambimuttu.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Illustrated Weekly of India


Fred Urquhart, Life and Letters Today 59.136 (All About Mr Hatterr)

Secondary works: 

Bainbridge, Emma, ‘“Ball-Bearings All The Way, And Never A Dull Moment!”: An Analysis of the Writings of G. V. Desani’, unpublished PhD thesis (University of Kent at Canterbury, 2003)

Daniels, Shouri, Desani: Writer and Worldview (New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann, 1984)

Innes, C. L., A History of Black and Asian Writing in Britain, 1700–2000, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)


Archive source: 

Desani Papers, University of Texas, Austin

BBC Written Archives Centre, Caversham Park, Reading

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Govindas Vishnoodas Desani

G. V. Dasani (changes his name to Desani in 1941)


40 Kew Bridge Court
London, W4 3AE
United Kingdom
51° 29' 19.3164" N, 0° 17' 2.796" W
Hillcrest OX1 5EZ
United Kingdom
51° 43' 26.2992" N, 1° 16' 30.414" W
6 Devonshire Terrace
London, W2 3HG
United Kingdom
51° 30' 49.6584" N, 0° 10' 48.0684" W
Date of death: 
15 Nov 2000
Location of death: 
Dallas, Texas
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1926
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1926-8, 1939-52

Dylan Thomas


Dylan Thomas was born in 1914 in Swansea, Wales, to David John Thomas and Florence Hannah. He left school at the age of 16 and went to work for the local evening newspaper while he developed his poetry.

T. S. Eliot and Stephen Spender took notice of Thomas when he published some of his poems in the BBC journal The Listener in 1934. While he became known in literary circles in London, he remained a relatively obscure figure to the public. He toured the bars of Fitzrovia where he met Mulk Raj Anand, among others. In a letter to Pamela Hansford Johnson, dated 6 August 1937, Thomas wrote:

Last week, a man called Mulk Raj Anand made a big curry for everybody about. The first course was beans, little ones. I ate two and couldn’t speak. A little man called Wallace B. Nichols, who has made small fortune out of writing epic poems on people like Cromwell and Nelson and Mrs Elsie Guddy, took a whole mouthful and was assisted out. He writes for the Cornhill. After the main dish, which was so unbelievably hot that everyone, except the Indian, was crying like Shirley Temple, a woman, Mrs Henderson, looked down onto her plate and saw, lying at one corner of it, a curious rubbery thing that looked like a red, discarded French letter. In interest, she picked it up and found it was the entire skin from her tongue. (Collected Letters, p. 296)

M. J. Tambimuttu, who had come to Britain in 1938, was a great admirer and supporter of Thomas’ poetry. Thomas wrote regularly for Tambimuttu's Poetry London and contributed to his anthology Poetry in Wartime (1942). In wartime London, he also wrote scripts for the BBC Overseas Services.
After the war, Thomas struggled to make a living as a poet and, in 1948, he moved back to Wales. There, his life deteriorated further, and he spent much of his income on alcohol. In the early 1950s, Thomas went to America where his health worsened. He died on 9 Novemeber 1953 at St Vincent’s Hospital in New York City.
Published works: 

18 Poems (London: Sunday Referee; Pardon Bookshop, 1934)

Twenty-Five Poems (London: Dent, 1936)

Map of Love (London: Dent, 1939)

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog (London: Dent, 1940)

'Deaths and Entrances', in Poetry in Wartime, ed. by M. J. Tambimuttu (London: Faber & Faber, 1942), pp. 169-70

'On a Wedding Anniversary', in Poetry in Wartime, ed. by M. J. Tambimuttu (London: Faber & Faber, 1942), pp. 170-1

New Poems (Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1943)

Deaths and Entrances: Poems (London: Dent, 1946)

Selected Writings (New York: James Laughlin, 1946)

Twenty-Six Poems (London: Dent, 1949)

Collected Poems, 1934-1952 (London: Dent, 1952)

In Country Sleep, and Other Poems (New York: James Laughlin, 1952)

The Doctor and the Devils...From the Story by Donald Taylor (Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1953)

A Child's Christmas in Wales (Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1954)

Quite Early One Morning (London: Dent, 1954)

Conversation about Christmas (New York: printed for the friends of J. Laughlin and New Directions, 1954)

Under Milk Wood: A Play for Voices (London: Dent, 1954)

Adventures in the Skin Trade (London: Putnam, 1955)

A Prospect of the Sea, and Other Stories and Prose Writings (London: Dent, 1955)

Letters to Vernon Watkins (London: Dent, 1957; Faber & Faber, 1957)

The Beach of Falesá: Based on a Story by Robert Louis Stevenson (London: Jonathan Cape, 1964)

Rebecca's Daughters (London: Triton Publishing Co., 1965)

The Death of the King's Canary (London: Hutchinson, 1976)

Collected Stories (London: Dent, 1983)

Collected Letters of Dylan Thomas (London: Dent, 1985)

After the Fair and Other Stories (London: Macmillan, 1986)

The Broadcasts (London: Dent, 1991)

Dylan Thomas: Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 2004)

Date of birth: 
27 Oct 1914

Mulk Raj Anand (fellow companion in Fitzrovia, London), Lawrence Durrell, T. S. Eliot (published some of Thomas’ poems in Criterion), Christopher Isherwood (hosted Thomas while in California), Louis MacNeice (Thomas acted in one of MacNeice’s plays), Julian Maclaren-Ross, Edith Sitwell, Stephen Spender (broadcast with Thomas and reviewed his Collected Poems), M. J. Tambimuttu (edited several of Thomas’s poetry collections).  

Contributions to periodicals: 

New English Weekly

Poetry London

The Listener

Secondary works: 

Brinnin, John Malcolm, A Casebook on Dylan Thomas (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1960)

Brinnin, John Malcolm, Dylan Thomas in America (London: Dent, 1956)

Caesar, Adrian, Dividing Lines: Poetry, Class and Ideology in the 1930s (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991)

Davies, Aneirin Talfan, Dylan: Druid of the Broken Body (London: Dent, 1964)

Dugdale, J. S., Brodie's Notes on Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood (London: Pan, 1976)

Ferris, Paul, Caitlin: The Life of Caitlin Thomas (London: Hutchinson, 1993)

Ferris, Paul, Dylan Thomas (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1977)

Ferris, Paul, 'Thomas, Dylan Marlais (1914–1953)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

FitzGibbon, Constantine, The Life of Dylan Thomas (London: Dent, 1965)

Fryer, Jonathan, Dylan: The Nine Lives of Dylan Thomas (London: Kyle Cathie, 1993)

Gaston, Georg, Critical Essays on Dylan Thomas (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989)

Heaney, Seamus, Dylan the Durable?: On Dylan Thomas (Bennington, VT: Bennington College, 1992)

Holt, Heather, Dylan Thomas: the Actor (Swansea: Heather Holt, 2003)

Hughes, Beryl, The Cat's Whiskers (Hove: B. Hughes, 1998)

Jones, Daniel, My Friend Dylan Thomas (London: Dent, 1977)

Lane, Gary, A Concordance to the Poems of Dylan Thomas (Metuchen: Scarecrow Press, 1976)

Lycett, Andrew, Dylan Thomas: A New Life (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003)

Magoon, Joseph, A Bibliography of Writings about Dylan Thomas for 1960 to 1989 (Bournemouth: J. Magoon, 1944)

Maud, Ralph Noel and Davies, A. T., The Colour of Saying: An Anthology of Verse Spoken by Dylan Thomas (London: Dent, 1963)

Maud, Ralph Noel, Dylan Thomas in Print: A Bibliographical History (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1970)

Moynihan, William T., The Craft and Art of Dylan Thomas (New York: Cornell University Press, 1966; London: Oxford University Press, 1966)

Nashold, James and Tremlett, George, The Death of Dylan Thomas (Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1997)

Ranasinha, Ruvani, South Asian Writers in Twentieth-Century Britain: Culture in Translation (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007)

Read, Bill, The Days of Dyland Thomas (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1965)

Rowe, David, Dylan: Fern Hill to Milk Wood: The Bumpy Road to Glory (Llandysul: Gomer, 1999)

Sinclair, Andrew, Dylan the Bard: A Life of Dylan Thomas (London: Constable, 1999)

Thomas, Caitlin, Caitlin: A Warring Absence (London: Secker & Warburg, 1986)

Thomas, Caitlin, Double Drink Story: My Life with Dylan Thomas (London: Virago, 1998)

Thomas, David M., Dylan Remembered, Vol. 1, 1913-1934 (Bridgend: Seren, 2003)

Thomas-Ellis, Aeronwy, A Daughter Remembers Dylan: Christmas and Other Memories (Twickenham: Merton Books, 2006)

Tolley, Arthur Trevor, The Poetry of the Forties (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985)

Watkins, Gwen, Portrait of a Friend (Llandysul: Gomer, 1983)

Willetts, Paul, Fear and Loathing in Fitzrovia: The Bizarre Life of Writer, Actor, Soho Dandy Julian Maclaren-Ross (Stockport: Dewi Lewis, 2003)

Williams, Robert Coleman, A Concordance to the Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1967)

Archive source: 

Correspondence, poems and papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University

Letter, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

Papers of and relating to Thomas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas

Letters, Victoria University, University of Toronto

Letters to Vernon Watkins, Add. Ms 52612, British Library, St Pancras

Letters to Desmond Hawkins, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

Letters to Percy Eynon Smart, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

Extensive biographical information in the tapes of Colin Edwards Collection, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Dylan Marlais Thomas

Date of death: 
09 Nov 1953
Location of death: 
St Vincent's Hospital, New York
Tags for Making Britain: 

George Orwell


George Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair in Motihair, Bihar to Richard Walmsley Blair, an official in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service, and Ida Mabel Limouzin. His mother moved with her children to England and settled in Henley-on-Thames in 1904. Orwell was educated at St Cyprian’s School and Eton where he was briefly taught French by Aldous Huxley.

Instead of opting to study at Cambridge or Oxford, which would have been a logical step for an Eton-educated man, Orwell applied for a colonial job in Burma, where a large number of his mother’s family, including his grandmother, still lived. He joined the Indian Imperial Police Force in 1922. As part of his training he learnt Burmese and Hindustani. Orwell resigned his position after five years and returned to England to become a full-time writer. He drew on his experiences of imperialism for Burmese Days, ‘A Hanging’ and ‘Shooting an Elephant’ which unmasks how much he loathed the colonial administrative system of which he had become a part. Victor Gollancz turned down Burmese Days for fear of libel action and it was published in the USA in 1934.

After his return, Orwell started to build his reputation as left-wing writer. He was well-known for his social reportage in books like Down and Out in Paris and London (1933) or Homage to Catalonia (1938), based on his experiences during the Spanish Civil War. Since the early 1930s Orwell reviewed and wrote poems and sketches for the Journal Adelphi.

Orwell’s network of Indian friends expanded when he joined the BBC Indian Section of the Eastern Service  as Talks Assistant in 1941. Orwell was deemed a suitable candidate because of his Anglo-Indian background, his service in Burma, his frank honesty and his proficiency in Burmese and Hindustani. Orwell had already broadcast on the BBC Home Service. After Z. A. Bokhari had produced a number of talks by Orwell for the Eastern Service, he recommended him for a full position with the Indian section, which Orwell took up on 16 August 1941. He attended training courses together with William Empson who had also just started working for the BBC in London. Orwell worked as part of the BBC’s efforts to counter the German propaganda machine and to communicate to India the importance of its support for Britain in the war effort. Orwell was instrumental in arranging a diverse schedule of programmes on arts, culture and politics, such as the literary magazine programme ‘Voice’, which brought together a wide range of South Asian, British and Caribbean writers. It would provide the template for Una Marson’s ‘Caribbean Voices’. Orwell and Mulk Raj Anand became good friends while working at the BBC. Anand would cook Indian meals for Orwell. Both had shared similar experiences while fighting with Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. Orwell commissioned Anand to write a talk on the event, however it did not pass the censor. He also befriended the Eurasian writer Cedric Dover, commissioning him to write talks for the Indian section, recommending him to publishers and editors and supporting him for a grant at the Royal Literary Fund.

Orwell became increasingly frustrated with the threat of censorship and questioned the effectiveness of the Service’s broadcasts. He also resented being challenged by Bokhari for his published journalism in newspapers such as the Observer and New Statesman. He resigned his position in September 1943. After leaving the BBC, Orwell began work on his most famous works Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). His time at the BBC provided rich material for the latter novel. He continued to publish journalism and became the literary editor of Tribune. Orwell died of Tuberculosis in 1950.

Published works: 

Down and Out in Paris and London (London: Victor Gollancz, 1933)

Burmese Days, etc. (New York: Harper, 1934)

A Clergyman's Daughter (London: Victor Gollancz, 1935)

Keep the Aspidistra Flying (London: Victor Gollancz, 1936)

The Road to Wigan Pier (London: Victor Gollancz, 1937)

Homage to Catalonia (London: Secker & Warburg, 1938)

Coming Up for Air (London: Victor Gollancz, 1939)

Animal Farm: A Fairy Story (London: Secker & Warburg, 1945)

Nineteen Eighty-Four (London: Secker & Warburg, 1949)

The Complete Works of George Orwell, ed. by Peter Davison (London: Secker & Warburg, 1998)

Date of birth: 
25 Jun 1903
Contributions to periodicals: 



New Statesman

The Listener



Secondary works: 

Buitenhuis, Peter, and Nadel, Ira Bruce, George Orwell: A Reassessment (Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1988)

Burgess, Anthony, 1985 (London: Hutchinson, 1978)

Calder, Jenni, Chronicles of Conscience: A Study of George Orwell and Arthur Koestler (London: Secker & Warburg, 1968)

Coppard, Audrey, and Crick, Bernard R., Orwell Remembered (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1984) 

Crick, Bernard R., George Orwell: A Life (London: Secker & Warburg, 1980)

Crick, Bernard, 'Blair, Eric Arthur [George Orwell] (1903–1950)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Hitchens, Christopher, Orwell's Victory (London: Allen Lane, 2002)

Milosz, Czeslaw, The Captive Mind (London: Secker & Warburg, 1953)

Rosenfeld, I., 'Decency and Death', Partisan Review (May 1950)

Shelden, Michael, Orwell: The Authorised Biography (London: Heinemann, 1991)

Stansky, Peter, and Abrahams, William, The Unknown Orwell (London: Constable, 1972)

Stansky, Peter, and Abrahams, William, Orwell: The Transformation (London: Constable, 1979)

Woodcock, George, The Crystal Spirit: A Study of George Orwell (London: Cape, 1967)

Stansky, Peter, and Abrahams, William, Orwell: The Transformation (London: Constable, 1979)

Archive source: 

BBC Written Archives Centre, Caversham Park, Reading

Correspondence, literary MSS, notebooks and diary, University College London Special Collections, University of London

Correspondence with Secker and Warburg, publishers, University College London Special Collections, University of London

Recieved Letters, Nauscript Collection, British Library, St Pancras

Involved in events: 
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Eric Arthur Blair

Date of death: 
21 Jan 1950
Location of death: 
University College Hospital, London
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1904
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1906-21, 1927-36, 1937-50


77 Parliament Hill, London, NW3 1NR

Louis MacNeice


Louis Frederick MacNeice was born in Belfast to John Frederick MacNeice and Elizabeth Margaret MacNeice. He was sent to preparatory school in Sherbourne, England, in 1917, then attended Marlborough College in 1921 and Merton College, Oxford, in 1926. At Oxford, he met writers W. H. Auden and Stephen Spender. In 1930, his final year at Oxford, he was awarded a first in literae humaniores, edited Oxford Poetry with Stephen Spender, and published his first book of poetry, Blind Fireworks.

He entered the literary circle of London, where he met Bonamy Dobrée, T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Cecil Day Lewis and Mulk Raj Anand. He describes his first meeting with Anand thus: 'It was outside the British Museum that I met Mulk Raj Anand, a young Indian novelist. Mulk was small and lithe and very handsome, wore shirts, ties and scarves of scarlet or coral, talked very fast and all the time, was a crusader for the Indian Left' (The Strings Are False, p. 209). By 1940, war had broken out in Europe and MacNeice decided to leave for the United States where he remained until December that year. He was not fit for war service but joined the BBC in 1941. In wartime London, MacNeice still socialized with many of his literary friends from the 1930s: Cecil Day Lewis, Mulk Raj Anand and M. J. Tambimuttu. MacNeice also published many of his poems in Tambimuttu's journal Poetry London and was included in Tambimuttu's Poetry in Wartime (1942).

Upon Indian independence in 1947, MacNeice was sent to India to cover the event for the BBC. He and fellow companions, Francis Dillon and Wynford Vaughan Thomas, travelled through much of India and reported back to England on the celebrations as well as the horrors they witnessed.

In 1961, MacNeice gave up full-tme employment in the BBC to free up time for writing. In 1963, he became ill, and he died of viral pneumonia on 3 September.

Published works: 

Blind Fireworks (London: Victor Gollancz, 1929)

(with Stephen Spender) Oxford Poetry, 1929 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1929)

Roundabout Way (New York and London: Putnam, 1932)

Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 1935)

(with W. H. Auden) Letters from Iceland (London: Faber & Faber, 1937)

Out of the Picture: A Play in Two Acts (London: Faber & Faber, 1937)

The Earth Compels: Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 1938)

I Crossed the Minch (London: Longmans, 1938)

Modern Poetry: A Personal Essay (London: Oxford University Press, 1938)

Zoo (London: Michael Joseph, 1938)

Autumn Journal: A Poem (London: Faber & Faber, 1939)

The Last Ditch (Dublin: Cuala, 1940)

Selected Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 1940)

Plant and Phantom: Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 1941)

The Poetry of W. B. Yeats (London: Oxford University Press, 1941)

Christopher Columbus: A Radio Play (London: Faber & Faber, 1944)

Springboard: Poems, 1941-1944 (London: Faber & Faber, 1944)

The Dark Tower, and Other Radio Scripts (London: Faber & Faber, 1947)

Holes in the Sky: Poems, 1944-1947 (London: Faber & Faber, 1948)

Collected Poems, 1925-1948 (London: Faber & Faber, 1949)

Ten Burnt Offerings (London: Faber & Faber, 1952)

Visitations (London: Faber & Faber, 1952)

Autumn Sequel: A Rhetorical Poem in XXVI Cantos (London: Faber & Faber, 1954)

The Other Wing (London: Faber & Faber, 1954)

The Sixpence That Rolled Away (London: Faber & Faber, 1956)

Eighty-Five Poems: Selected by the Author (London: Faber & Faber, 1959)

Solstices (London: Faber & Faber, 1961)

The Burning Perch (London: Faber & Faber, 1963)

Astrology (London: Aldus Books, 1964)

The Mad Islands, and The Administrator: Two Plays (London: Faber & Faber, 1964)

The Strings are False: An Unfinished Autobiography (London: Faber & Faber, 1965)

Varieties of Parable (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965)

(with E. R. Dodds) The Collected Poems of Louis MacNeice (London: Faber & Faber, 1966)

One for the Grave: A Modern Morality Play (London: Faber & Faber, 1968)

Persons from Porlock, and Other Plays for Radio, with an Introduction by W. H. Auden (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1969)

The Revenant: A Song-Cycle for Hedli Anderson (Dublin: Cuala Press, 1975)

(with Alana Heuser and Peter MacDonald) Selected Plays of Louis MacNeice (Oxford and New York: Clarendon Press, 1993)

Date of birth: 
12 Sep 1907

Mulk Raj Anand, W. H. Auden (Oxford), Bonamy Dobree, T. S. Eliot (Criterion), Stephen Spender, M. J. Tambimuttu (Poetry London, Poetry in Wartime), Dylan Thomas (acted in MacNeice's plays).

Contributions to periodicals: 


New Verse

Poetry London

Secondary works: 

Anand, Mulk Raj, and Williams, Jane, 'Talking of Tambi: The Dilemma of the Asian Intellectual', in Jane Williams (ed.) Tambimuttu: Bridge Between Two Worlds (London: Peter Owen, 1989), pp. 191-201

Armitage, Christopher Mead, A Bibliography of the Works of Louis MacNeice (London: Kaye & Ward, 1973)

Brown, Richard Danson, Louis MacNeice and the Poetry of the 1930s (Tavistock: Northcote House, 2009)

Brown, Terence, Louis MacNeice: Sceptical Vision (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1975; New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1975)

Brown, Terence, and Reid, Alan, Time Was Away: The World of Louis MacNeice (Dublin: Dolmen Press, 1974; London: Oxford University Press, 1974)

Coulton, Barbara, Louis MacNeice in the BBC (London: Faber & Faber, 1980)

David, D. M., 'MacNeice, (Frederick) Louis (1970-1963)', rev. by Jon Stallworthy, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Devine, Kathleen, and Peacock, Alan J., Louis MacNeice and His Influence (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1998)

Haffenden, John, William Empson, Vol 2: Against the Christians (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005-6)

Heuser, Alan, Selected Literary Criticism of Louis MacNeice (Oxford: Clarendon, 1987)

Innes, C. L., A History of Black and Asian Writing in Britain, 1700-2000. 2nd edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Longley, Edna, Louis MacNeice: A Study (London: Faber & Faber, 1988)

MacKinnon, William Tulloch, Apollo's Blended Dream: A Study of the Poetry of Louis MacNeice (London: Oxford University Press, 1971)

Marsack, Robyn, The Cave of Making: The Poetry of Louis MacNeice (Oxford: Clarendon, 1982)

McDonald, Peter, Louis MacNeice: The Poet in His Contexts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991)

Moore, Donald Bert, The Poetry of Louis MacNeice (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1972)

O'Neill, Michael, Auden, MacNeice, Spender: The Thirties Poetry (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992)

Press, John, Louis MacNeice (London: Longmans, 1965)

Smith, Elton Edward, Louis MacNeice (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1970)

Stallworthy, Jon, Louis MacNeice (London: Faber & Faber, 1995)

Whitehead, John, A Commentary on the Poetry of W. H. Auden, C. Day Lewis, Louis MacNeice, and Stephen Spender (Lewiston, NY, and Lampeter: Mellen, 1992)

Wigginton, Chris, Modernism from the Margins: The 1930s Poetry of Louis MacNeice and Dylan Thomas (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2007)

Archive source: 

Correspondence and papers, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to E. R. Dodds, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to parents from Sherbourne and Marlborough, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Literary Mss and Mss, Columbia University, New York

Mss, King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge

Letters to Anthony Blunt, King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge

Mss and correspondence, State University of New York

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Louis Frederick MacNeice

Date of death: 
03 Sep 1963
Location of death: 
St Leonard's Hospital, Shoreditch, London

David Gascoyne


David Gascoyne was an English poet, writer and translator. In 1933, he visited Paris and became acquainted with Surrealist artists such as Max Ernst, Paul Éluard and Salvador Dalí. Gascoyne played a significant role in promoting the Surrealist movement in Britain; he wrote A Short Survey of Surrealism (1935), and organized the London International Surrealist Exhibition in 1936 with Herbert Read and Roland Penrose. He also translated some key Surrealist works into English, such as André Breton's What is Surrealism? In 1936, he travelled to Barcelona to help the Propaganda Bureau of the Catalonian Government during the Spanish Civil War. In the 1940s and 1950s, he worked at the BBC, presenting programmes on poetry.

Gascoyne started his career as a poet in his teens, publishing his first collection of poems in 1932 when he was only 16. He gained critical recognition when his Poems, 1937-1942, illustrated by Graham Sutherland, was published in 1943 as a volume of Tambimuttu’s Editions Poetry London. His poems were also collected in Tambimuttu’s Poetry in Wartime (1942), and he was a contributor to Tambimuttu’s literary periodical journal Poetry London.

Gascoyne kept journals in the late 1930s, Paris Journal 1937-1939 (published in 1978) and Journal 1936-37 (published in 1980). These are important documents, not only of Gascoyne’s spiritual journey but also of the intellectual milieu of the period; they record his friendship with Dylan Thomas, Kathleen Raine, Roger Roughton, Lawrence Durrell, Henry Miller, and others.

Published works: 

Roman Balcony (London: Lincoln Williams, 1932)

Opening Day (London: Cobden-Sanderson, 1933)

A Short Survey of Surrealism (London: Cobden-Sanderson, 1935)

Man's Life is this Meat (London: Parton Press, 1936)

Hölderlin's Madness (London: Dent, 1938)

Poems, 1937-1942, with drawings by Graham Sutherland (London: Nicholson & Watson/Editions Poetry London, 1943)

A Vagrant, and Other Poems (London: Lehmann, 1950)

Thomas Carlyle (London & New York: Longmans, Green, for the British Council, 1952)

Night Thoughts (London: Deutsch, 1956; New York: Grove, 1956)

Collected Poems, ed. by Robin Skelton (London: Oxford University Press/Deutsch; New York: Oxford University Press, 1965)

The Sun at Midnight (London: Enitharmon Press, 1970)

Three Poems (London: Enitharmon Press, 1976)

Paris Journal 1937-1939 (London: Enitharmon Press, 1978)

Journal 1936-37, Death of an Explorer, Léon Chestov (London: Enitharmon Press, 1980)

Early Poems (Warwick, UK: Greville Press, 1980)

La Mano del Poeta (Genoa: Edizioni S. Marco dei Giustiniani, 1982)

Antennae (San Francisco: City Lights, 1982)

Rencontres avec Benjamin Fondane (St Nazaire: Editions Arcane, 1984)

Tankens Doft, ed. by Lars-Inge Nilsson (Lund : Ellerstöms, 1988)

‘PL Editions and Graham Sutherland’, in Jane Williams (ed.) Tambimuttu: Bridge between Two Worlds (London: Peter Owen, 1989), pp. 112-18

Selected Poems (Chester Springs, PA: Dufour Editions, 1994)

Encounter with Silence: Poems, 1950 (London: Enitharmon Press, 1998)


‘Tambimuttu (1915-1983)’, PN Review 34, 10.2 (1983), p. 8

Date of birth: 
10 Oct 1916

Extract from David Gascoyne’s obituary of Tambimuttu.


George Barker, André Breton, Alan Clodd, Cyril Connolly, Salvador Dalí, Lawrence Durrell, Paul Éluard, William Empson, Humphrey Jennings, Pierre Jean Jouve, Henry Miller, Alida Munro, Roland Penrose, Kathleen Raine, Herbert Read, Humphrey Searle, Stephen Spender, Edith Sitwell, Graham Sutherland, M. J. Tambimuttu Dylan Thomas, Robin Waterfield.

Contributions to periodicals: 

New Verse  (‘Answers to an Enquiry’, 11, 11 October 1934)

New Verse (‘The Public Rose’, 13, 13 February 1935)

Purpose: A Quarterly Magazine (‘Selected Poems by Marianne Moore (A Review)’, October - December 1935)

Cahiers d’Arts (‘Premier Manifeste Anglais du Surréalisme (Fragment)’, 10, 1935)

Literary Review (Poetry and Reality’, May 1936)

Comment (‘Henry Miller’, 11.39, 19 September 1936)

Left Review (‘Authors Take Sides on the Spanish War’, 1937)

Criterion (17.66, October 1937)

New Verse (‘Sixteen Comments on Auden’, 26-27, November 1937)

New Road (‘A Lttle Anthology of Existential Thought’, 4, 1946)

Poetry Quarterly (‘Introducing Kenneth Patchen’, 1, 1946)

Poetry Quarterly (‘Note on Symbolism: Its Role in Metaphysical Thought’, 2, 1946)

Horizon (‘Léon Chestov: After Ten Years’ Silence’, 118, October 1949)

London Magazine (‘A New Poem by Pierre Jean Jouve: “Language”’, 2.2, February 1955)

Two Rivers (‘The Sun at Midnight’, 1.1, Winter 1969)

Literary Review (‘Antonia White: A Personal Appreciation’, 21, 25 July-8 August 1980)

Poetry Review (‘Renard’s Gift’, 70, 1980)

Times Literary Supplement (‘Sweeping the World’s Surface’, 3 October 1980)

Times Literary Supplement (‘Misguided Tour’, 5 December 1980)

Adam (‘My indebtedness to Jouve’, 422.424, 1980)

P. N. Review 14 (‘David Wright: A Few Words of Reminiscence and Appreciation’, 6.6, 1980)

Selected Poems, Tememos 1 (Review of Angelos Sikelianos, 1, 1981)

Encrages (‘Le Surréalisme et la Jeune Poésie Anglaise: Souvenirs de l’Avant-Guerre’, 6, 1981)

Temenos (‘A Kind of Declaration’, 1, 1982)

Temenos (‘Prelude to a New Fin-de-Siècle’ (a poem), 2, 1982)

Poetry London/Apple Magazine (‘Gascoyne’s Choice’, 2, 1982)

Times Literary Supplement (‘Good Places and Bad’, 1 October 1982)

New Departures (‘Departures’, 15, 1983)

Temenos (‘Reviews – Ancient Egypt Revisited’, 4, 1983)

P.N. Review 34 (‘Tambimuttu (1915-1983)’, 10.4, 1983)

Resurgence (‘Thoughts of Edgar Morin’, 113, November/December 1985)

Resurgence (‘Self Discharged’, 115, March/April 1986)

Agenda (‘On the State of Poetry’, 27.3, 1989)

Times Literary Supplement (‘Loplop and his Aviary: The Surrealist Visions of Marx Ernst and Man Ray’, 8 March 1991)

Times Literary Supplement (‘Alchemist of the Spirit: Breton’s Esoteric Treasure Hunt’, 23 August 1991)

Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Journal (‘Fellow Bondsman’, 1, 1992)


Times Literary Supplement, 2 February 1933, p. 79 (Roman Balcony)

Times Literary Supplement, 28 September 1933, pp. 653-4 (Opening Day)

G. Price-Jones, Times Literary Supplement, 4 January 1936, p. 10 (A Short Survey of Surrealism)

Geoffrey Walton, Scrutiny, March 1936, pp. 452-4 (A Short Survey of Surrealism)

Times Literary Supplement, 30 May 1936, p. 462 (Man's Life is this Meat)

Times Literary Supplement, 11 June 1938, p. 406 (Hölderlin's Madness)

Hugh I'Anson Fausset, Times Literary Supplement, 5 February 1944, p. 68 (Poems 1937-1942)

Kathleen Raine, Dublin Review, April 1944, pp. 187-92

Mary Visick, Times Literary Supplement, 12 January 1951, p. 18 (A Vagrant, and Other Poems)

Gordon Wharton, Times Literary Supplement, 18 January 1957, p. 32 (Night Thoughts)

Kathleen Jessie Raine, Times Literary Supplement, August 12 1965, p. 696

M. Edwards, Times Literary Supplement, October 1971, p. 1168 (Collected Verse Translations and The Sun at Midnight)

Stephen Spender, Times Literary Supplement, 27 October 1978, p. 1249 (Paris Journal 1937-1939)

Alan Young, PN Review, 1980, pp. 64-65 (Paris Journal 1937-1939)

Philip Gardner, Times Literary Supplement, 6 February 1981, p. 132 (Journal 1936-37)

Alan Ross, London Magazine, 21.3, June 1981, pp. 8-9 (Paris Journals 1937-1939 and Journal 1936-1937’)

Valentine Cunningham, Times Literary Supplement, 26 August 1988, p. 941

Andrew Frisardi, The Kenyon Review, Summer - Fall 2001, p. 206 (Selected Prose 1934-1996)


As I shall ever be indebted to Tambimuttu for publishing the first collection of my poems to be taken seriously by certain critics, it is not possible for me to express in conclusion a wholly unbiased or definitive opinion regarding him. He was warmly impulsive and loyal; he inspired loyalty and affection in a wide variety of not inconsiderable people; he could at times be exasperating but, as our wise mutual friend Robin Waterfield sometimes said of him, ‘One has to take Tambi like the weather’. His worst fault may well be said to have been his generosity. The reproach that someone, especially a man of letters, is generous to a fault, is unfortunately one that is now in increasing decline.

Secondary works: 

Atkinson, Ann, ‘David Gascoyne: A Check-List’, Twentieth Century Literature 6 (1961), pp. 180-92

Benford, Colin T., David Gascoyne, a Bibliography of his Works, 1929-1985 (Ryde, Isle of Wight: Heritage Books, 1986)

Christensen, Peter, ‘David Gascoyne: Confessional Novelist’, Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Journal 1 (1992), pp. 72-90

Cronin, Anthony, ‘Poetry & Ideas-II: David Gascoyne’, London Magazine 4.7 (1957), pp. 49-55

Duncan, Erika, ‘The Silent Poet: Profile of David Gascoyne’. Book Forum: An International Transdisciplinary Quarterly 4 (1979), pp. 655-71

Duncan, Erika, Unless Soul Clap its Hands: Portraits and Passages (New York: Schocken Books, 1984)

Jennings, Elizabeth, ‘The Restoration of Symbols’, Twentieth Century 165 (1959), pp. 567-77

MacNiven, Ian S., ‘Emblems of Friendship: Lawrence Durrell and David Gascoyne’, Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Journal 2 (1993), pp. 131-3

Quinn, Bernetta, ‘Symbolic Landscape in David Gascoyne’, Contemporary Literature 12.4 (1971), pp. 466-94

Raine, Kathleen, ‘David Gascoyne and the Prophetic Role’, Sewanee Review 75 (1967), pp. 193-229

Ray, Paul C., ‘Meaning and Textuality: A Surrealist Example’, Twentieth Century Literature: A Scholarly and Critical Journal 26.3 (1980), pp. 306-22

Silkin, Jon, ‘David Gascoyne’, Agenda 19.2-3 (1981 Summer - Autumn), pp. 59-70

Stanford, Derek, ‘David Gascoyne: A Spiritual Itinerary’, Month 29 (1963), pp. 156-69

Stanford, Derek, ‘David Gascoyne and the Unacademics’, Meanjin Quarterly 23 (1964), pp. 70-9

Stanford, Derek, ‘Gascoyne in Retrospect’, Poetry Review 56 (1965), pp. 238-47


The concluding paragraph of Gascoyne’s obituary gives insight into Tambimuttu’s character as Gascoyne saw it and the nature of their friendship.

Archive source: 

Gascoyne Notebooks, Manuscripts, British Library, St. Pancras

Beinecke Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

Buffalo State College, State University of New York

McFarlin Library, University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

Berg collection, Humanities and Social Sciences Library, The New York Public Library

Sound Archive, British Library, St Pancras

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
25 Nov 2001
Location of death: 
Newport, Isle of Wight

Indira Devi


Maharajkumari Indira Devi was born on 26 February 1912 to Maharaja Paramjit Singh and Maharani Brinda of Kapurthala. She left India for Britain in 1935 at the age of twenty-three. Only her sisters Princesses Sushila and Ourmilla knew of her intentions. In England she studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London with a view to becoming a movie star. While she did not fulfil this ambition, she managed to work briefly with Alexander Korda at London Films, who wanted to launch her as his next big star after Merle Oberon. However the difficulties of the film industry in the late 1930s meant she did not get her big break in the movie business.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, Indira Devi successfully passed the St John Ambulance examination and drove motor ambulances during air raids. She also worked for a while as a postal censor. She joined the BBC in 1942 and became known as the ‘Radio Princess’. She hosted a half-hour radio programme in Hindustani for Indian forces stationed in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. She broadcast the programme 'The Debate continues', a weekly report to India on the proceedings in the House of Commons, where she was the only woman in the Press Gallery. She broadcast many talks series for the Indian Section of the Eastern Service Division. She also broadcast on the Home Service. She was offered a permanent contract with the Overseas Service Division in 1943. She continued to work for the BBC until 1968. Princess Indira died in Ibiza, Spain in September 1979.

Published works: 

The Revenge of the Gods: A Story of Ancient Egypt (London: The Eastern Press, 1928)

Date of birth: 
26 Feb 1912
Secondary works: 

Bance, Peter, The Sikhs in Britain: 150 Years of Photographs (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 2007)

Orwell, George (ed.), Talking to India (London: Allen and Unwin, 1943)

Archive source: 

BBC Written Archives Centre, Caversham Park, Reading

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Maharajkumari Indira Devi of Kapurthala, The Radio Princess, Indira of Kapurthala


512a Nell Gwynn House
Sloane Avenue, Kensington
London, SW3 3AU
United Kingdom
51° 29' 32.2476" N, 0° 9' 56.736" W
Hepatica Cottage Ivinghoe Aston, LU7 9DQ
United Kingdom
51° 51' 14.0472" N, 0° 37' 5.5308" W
Date of death: 
01 Sep 1979
Location of death: 
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1935
Dates of time spent in Britain: 


Balraj Sahni


Balraj Sahni worked in London as a Hindi-language broadcaster for the BBC's Indian Section of the Eastern Service. His wife Damjanthi Sahni also worked for the BBC. Before moving to London, Sahni had worked with Gandhi in 1938 and taught Hindi and English at Rabindranath Tagore's Visva-Bharati University in Shantiniketan.

He became a successful movie star in India after independence.

Date of birth: 
01 May 1913
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Date of death: 
13 Apr 1973
Dates of time spent in Britain: 




Tags for Making Britain: 

Z. A. Bokhari


Before arriving in London, to become director of the Indian Section of the BBC Eastern Service, Bokhari was the director of the Delhi Broadcasting Station of All India Radio. Bokhari was in London in July 1937, where he attended a reception held by Firoz Khan Noon at India House Aldwych. He moved to London to take up the post of Indian programmes organizer for the Indian section of the Eastern Service of the BBC from 1940 to 1945. Sir Malcom Darling recruited Bokhari on the recommendation of the controller of broadcasting for All India Radio, Lionel Fielden, to set up the Indian section of the Eastern Service. Initially Bokhari and his team only contributed a weekly news report and the odd cultural programme.

Bokahri together with Darling were instrumental in recruiting George Orwell, who would be an important asset also because of his friendship with Mulk Raj Anand, who had previously rejected Darling's offer of work at the BBC.  Bokhari hoped that he would be able to persuade Anand and other Indian friends to work for the Indian Section. During his time in London he managed the contracts and programming of the Indian Section of the Eastern Service, working closely with George Orwell. He was also an accomplished broadcaster, regularly transmitting talks in Urdu to India. He accompanied Richard Dimbleby to report on the Indian soldiers stationed with the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940. Organizing and coordinating the activities of the Indian Section of the Eastern Service, Bokhari was instrumental in the the Service’s programming and bringing together the network of free-lance talks writers based at the BBC. In 1945 he took up the position of Director of the All India Radio Station in Calcutta and later moved to Pakistan to become Controller of Broadcasting in Karachi for Radio Pakistan.

Published works: 

Orwell, George, (ed.), Talking to India (London: Allen & Unwin, 1943)

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1904
Precise DOB unknown: 
Secondary works: 

Fielden, Lionel, Beggar My Neighbour (London: Secker and Warburg, 1943)

Ranasinha, Ruvani, South Asian Writers in Twentieth Century Britain: Culture in Translation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)

West, W. J., Orwell: The War Broadcasts (London: Duckworth/BBC, 1985)

The Times (06 July 1937), p. 21

Archive source: 

BBC Written Archives Centre, Caversham Park, Reading

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Other names: 

Zulfikar Ali Bokhari, Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah Bukhari


Park Lane
London, W1K 7AF
United Kingdom
51° 30' 23.094" N, 0° 9' 7.9128" W
55 Portland Place
London, W1B 1QG
United Kingdom
51° 31' 15.4596" N, 0° 8' 43.6092" W
Indian Section of the BBC Eastern Service
200 Oxford Street
London, W1D 1NU
United Kingdom
51° 30' 55.8288" N, 0° 8' 24.9612" W
Date of death: 
12 Jul 1975
Location of death: 
Karachi, Pakistan
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

early 1920s; 1940-5

Narayana Menon


Narayana Menon studied at Madras and Edinburgh Universities. He was a Carnegie Scholar in English from 1939 to 1941 at Edinburgh where he became active in student politics, joining the Executive Council of the Indian Student Association of Great Britain. He graduated with a PhD in English for his thesis on the development of William Butler Yeats, which was published in 1942. E. M. Forster reviewed it favourably on BBC radio, which marked the start of a life-long friendship. Menon became a Senior Carnegie Scholar in 1941-2.

Menon was an accomplished veena player and gave numerous performances, amongst other at a charity concert in aid of the Indian poor in the East End of London in 1938. He joined the Indian Section of the Eastern Service in 1942. George Orwell commissioned him to write talks and Z. A. Bokhari used him on many occasions as a talks reader in Hindustani and English. His work at the BBC was diverse and included broadcasts on literature and music. He participated with Mulk Raj Anand in the fifth instalment of Orwell’s poetry discussion programme ‘Voice’. He also wrote programmes on E. J. Thompson in the ‘Friends of Bengal’ Series, adapted Tagore’s ‘The King of the Dark Chamber’ for the Hindustani Service and the Prem Chand story ‘The Shroud’ for the series ‘Indian Play’. He was advisor and producer of the Music Programme for the BBC Eastern Service, a post he held until 1947. Menon was a committed supporter of the Indian independence movement. He was involved with V. K. Krishna Menon’s India League and regularly gave music recitals at its events. He had also close links with Rajani Palme Dutt and Krishnarao Shelvankar.

After his return to India he became Director of Broadcasting in Baroda State from 1947-8, before moving to All India Radio, for which he worked from 1948-63, later becoming its director general.

Published works: 

The Development of William Butler Yeats (London: Oliver & Boyd, 1942)

‘Recollections of E.M. Forster’ in K. Natwar Singh (ed.) E. M. Forster: A Tribute (New York: Harcourt Brace and World, 1964), pp. 3-14


Memo from Orwell, Indian Section of the Eastern Service,  200 Oxford Street, London, 24 Feb. 1943

Date of birth: 
27 Jun 1911

In this extract, Orwell defends the choice of Menon as programmes director for music.


Surat AlleyMulk Raj Anand, A. L. Bakaya, M. Blackman, Z. A. Bokhari, Venu Chitale, G. V. Desani, Basil Douglas, Cedric Dover, Rajani Palme Dutt E. M. Forster, T. S. Eliot, William Empson, Islam-il-Haq, Parvati Kumaramangalam, Una Marson, N. D. Mazumdar, Krishna Menon, George OrwellShah Abdul Majid Qureshi, Balraj Sahni, George Sampson, Krishnarao Shelvankar, Iqbal Singh, M. J. Tambimuttu, S. Arthur Wynn, L. F. Rushbrook-Williams (Director of the Eastern Service), W. B. Yeats.

Indian Student Association of Great Britain

Contributions to periodicals: 

Forster, E.M. 'An Indian on W.B. Yeats', The Listener 28.728 (24 December 1942), p. 824 (The Development of William Butler Yeats)

Orwell, George, Horizon (The Development of William Butler Yeats)


As the point has been queried, we are asking Dr Menon to choose the 15 minute musical programmes in weeks 12, 14, etc. because he has shown himself competent in selecting programmes of this type, and he ahs the advantage of being a student both of European and Indian music. He is therefore probably a good judge of the types of European music likely to appeal to Indian listeners.

Secondary works: 

'Concert To Aid Indian Poor Of East London ', The Times (25 October 1938), p. 12

Forster, E. M., Hughes, Linda K., Lago, Mary, et al. (eds) The BBC Talks of E. M. Forster, 1929-1960: A Selected Edition (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2008)

West, W. J. (ed.), Orwell: The War Broadcasts (London: Duckworth/BBC, 1985)

Archive source: 

BBC Written Archives Centre, Caversham Park, Reading

Involved in events: 

Independence Day Events of the India League

City of birth: 
Trichur, Kerala
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Other names: 

Vadakke Kurupath Narayana Menon


BBC Eastern Service
200 Oxford Street
London, W1D 1 NU
United Kingdom
51° 30' 55.8288" N, 0° 8' 24.9612" W
5 Marchhall Road
Edinburgh, EH16 5HR
United Kingdom
55° 56' 11.0976" N, 3° 10' 6.042" W
176 Sussex Gardens
London, W2 1UD
United Kingdom
51° 30' 52.2648" N, 0° 10' 26.1264" W
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1938
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 



Edinburgh, London.


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