Harry Clifton (producer)

Henry Talbot de Vere "Harry" Clifton (19071979) was a British aristocrat and film producer. He spent a number of years in Hollywood during the early 1930s and, in the mid 1930s, produced films in Britain.[1]

Harry Clifton
Henry Talbot de Vere Clifton

16 December 1907
ResidenceLytham Hall, Lancashire, England
Alma materOxford University
OccupationFilm producer
Spouse(s)Lilian Lowell Griswold (19371943)
Parent(s)John Talbot Clifton
Violet Mary Beauclerk

Early life

He was born on 16 December 1907, the son of John Talbot Clifton and Violet Mary Beauclerk, from a very wealthy family with extensive estates and other property holdings in England and Scotland. He was educated at Oxford University and knew the novelist Evelyn Waugh, having possibly met him at Oxford, and who is thought by some to have used him as a model for the Brideshead Revisited character, Sebastian Flyte,[2] although other sources (e.g. Paula Byrne) attribute the inspiration to Hugh Lygon.


In 1938, he bought Rufford Abbey (formerly owned by the Talbot family), but neglected it and, in 1952, the abbey and 150 acres of grounds were bought by Nottinghamshire County Council.[3] It is doubtful that he ever visited.

Clifton maintained a suite at the Ritz Hotel in London and decided to take on another at the nearby Dorchester Hotel. When asked why he replied, "If I'm passing down Park Lane and feel tired, then I've got somewhere to go."[4]

Personal life

He married Lilian Lowell Griswold in 1937. During their marriage he bought two Fabergé eggs,[5] the Renaissance Egg in 1937 and later the Rosebud Egg, but these famous tokens of love and affection did not guarantee a long marriage: the couple divorced in 1943.[6]

He died childless in 1979, having squandered his family's wealth of several million pounds and sold their thousands of acres of land and other properties including the family seat of Lytham Hall.


The IMDb lists one "Harry Clifton" as both an actor and a producer, with his first film as an actor being the 1908 version of the tale of the Younger brothers; however, Henry Talbot de Vere Clifton was only one year old at the time. Several other acting roles are credited to "Harry Clifton" up to 1919, which also appear to belong to a different Harry Clifton. However, he did act as an extra in at least one Hollywood film directed by John Ford.[7] Harry Clifton produced two British films in the mid-1930s, both for his friend Brian Desmond Hurst.[8] He wrote a £3,000 cheque on an opened cigarette packet to finance The Tell-Tale Heart: the "cheque" was honoured by the bank.[9]



  1. Harry Clifton at British Film Institute Explore Film website
  2. Lytham Hall, at Lytham Town Trust website. Retrieved 23 May 2014
  3. "History of Rufford Abbey". Nottinghamshire County Council.
  4. Robinson, John Martin (2014). Requisitioned : the British country house in the Second World War. p. 151. ISBN 9781781310953.
  5. Toby Faber, Faberge's Eggs, chapter 20, p.218, Pan Macmillan, 2008, ISBN 9780230713963
  6. Henry Talbot de Vere Clifton at thepeerage.com. Retrieved 24 April 2014
  7. Biography...The Hollywood Years at the official Brian Desmond Hurst legacy website. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  8. Brian McIlroy in Wheeler W. Dixon (ed), British Filmmaking in the 1930s and 1940s: the example of Brian Desmond Hurst Re-Viewing British Cinema, 1900-1992: Essays and Interviews, chapter 3, p.27, SUNY Press, 1994, ISBN 9780791418611
  9. The Tell-Tale Heart (1934) at the official Brian Desmond Hurst legacy website. Retrieved 24 April 2014.

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