Simon Raven

Biography: Simon Raven was the grandson of a Victorian mill-owner who made a fortune in the world of men's socks. His father, Arthur Raven, spent most of the fortune, leaving little of it for Simon, but gave him a taste for high living. Raven said his childhood (in Virginia Water, Surrey, when he was at home) was "middle-class, for which read respectable, prying, puritanical, penny-pinching, joyless." He won the top scholarship to Charterhouse, a leading independent school, where he received a classical education and began his long career as a bisexual seducer. Gerald Priestland wrote of him "Brilliant when he could be bothered, handsomely copper-headed but with a world-weary slouch and drawl, Raven moved through Charterhouse trailing an odour of brimstone." Eventually, Charterhouse ran out of patience with him, setting a pattern later repeated, and he was expelled, but only after he had won a scholarship to King's College, Cambridge. At Cambridge, he set out as he intended to go on forSimon Raven was the grandson of a Victorian mill-owner who made a fortune in the world of men's socks. His father, Arthur Raven, spent most of the fortune, leaving little of it for Simon, but gave him a taste for high living. Raven said his childhood (in Virginia Water, Surrey, when he was at home) was "middle-class, for which read respectable, prying, puritanical, penny-pinching, joyless." He won the top scholarship to Charterhouse, a leading independent school, where he received a classical education and began his long career as a bisexual seducer. Gerald Priestland wrote of him "Brilliant when he could be bothered, handsomely copper-headed but with a world-weary slouch and drawl, Raven moved through Charterhouse trailing an odour of brimstone." Eventually, Charterhouse ran out of patience with him, setting a pattern later repeated, and he was expelled, but only after he had won a scholarship to King's College, Cambridge. At Cambridge, he set out as he intended to go on for the rest of his life, excelling as a freebooter, a heavy gambler, drinker and libertine.
After a short and disastrous army career, Raven became a successful novelist and television scriptwriter. His first book was Feathers of Death (1959), and he wrote a total of thirty-four books, including the Alms for Oblivion series (1964–1976), but Raven soon found he could make more money by writing for the screen. He wrote plays and adapted period writers such as Anthony Trollope for television.Raven's life was a series of orderly retreats following shocking behaviour - from school, from the army, from jobs, from relationships - but his genius with words generally enabled him to fall on his feet. He wrote about himself in Shadows on the Grass (1981), a book of memoirs which E. W. Swanton called "the filthiest book ever written on cricket". After Raven's death, Michael Barber wrote a biography of him under the title The Captain: The Life and Times of Simon Raven (1996). He also wrote an obituary for The Guardian which is online here.
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