R. J. Minney

R.J. Minney (1895-1979) was a British film producer, journalist, editor and author. He was author of over 40 books including novels, biographies and histories and other books. As a film-maker and film producer he worked with British film companies such as Gainsborough Pictures and was invited to Hollywood by Darryl F. Zanuck. He wrote successful plays. He was also a journalist in India and in London and was editor of several newspapers, including during World War II. He was also a Labour Party candidate and came close to unseating Edward Heath in the safe Conservative Bexley constituency in 1955.

Early life

Rubeigh James was the son of JR Minney and was born in Calcutta, India on 29 August 1895.[1] He was often known as "RJ".

Education

School at St. Paul's School, Darjeeling. Studied history at King's College London[2] but left in 1914 to join the Indian Army

Family

Married Edith Anne Murielle Fox in 1918. In 1933 he was living at "Little Walcott", Bishops Avenue, London and later they lived at Lawford House, Manningtree in Essex. Children were Primrose and Robin Paul. The first marriage was dissolved and he married Hetty née Bolsom and became stepfather of Penelope Janet Chisholm. They lived in Hook House, Cousley Wood, Wadhurst, Sussex and Bewl Water reservoir came close to the house when it was filled in 1975. He was a member of the Savage Club.

Death

He died at Ticehurst, Sussex on 5 January 1979. A memorial service was held at St James's Piccadilly on 5 April 1979 and Sir Harold Wilson MP read the lesson while Virginia McKenna read a poem from the film "Carve Her Name with Pride".[3]

Journalism

On the editorial staff of "The Pioneer" in Allahabad and "The Englishman" Calcutta and represented the "Times" in Calcutta. He was a special reporter attached to the staff of the Duke of Connaught for the opening of India's first Parliament 1920.[4] In London he was a drama critic for "Daily Chronicle", "Sunday News" and "Everybody's Weekly" (1925-1935) and director of "Everybody's Publication Ltd" (to 1935), where he eventually became editor. Managing editor of "The Sunday Referee" (1935-39), editor of "The Era", editor of "War Weekly" (published from October 1939 to August 1941), published by Newnes, and eventually stopped because of shortage of paper. Editor of "The Strand Magazine" (1941-42) to which many famous writers contributed. He also wrote for "Daily Express". He was listed as editor of "Men Only" in 1955, published by Newnes and there was a book with many leading contributors called "A Stag Party with Men Only" printed by Newnes in 1955.

Novels

  • Maki 1921
  • The Road to Delhi 1923
  • Distant Drums 1935
  • How Vainly Men 1940
  • A Woman of France 1945
  • Nothing to Lose 1946
  • Bring Out the Drum 1950
  • The Governor's Wife 1951
  • Anne of the Sealed Knot 1972

Biographies

His first big best seller was his 1931 biography "Clive of India". His book on Charlie Chaplin was called "Chaplin – The Immortal Tramp" (1954). He also wrote "Carve Her Name with Pride" (1956) about the brave secret agent Violette Szabo, who was posthumously awarded the George Cross and which was later turned into a successful film with Virginia McKenna. He also wrote a harrowing but inspiring account "I Shall Fear No Evil" (1966) of Dr Alina Brewda who survived Auschwitz concentration camp and The Holocaust.

  • Clive of India 1931
  • Governor General 1935, a love story of Warren Hastings
  • Gentle Caesar, Tsar Nicholas II
  • Charlie Chaplin – The Immortal Tramp 1954
  • Viscount Southwood 1954
  • Carve Her Name with Pride 1956
  • Clive of India 1957
  • Viscount Addison, Leader of the Lords 1958
  • Fanny and the Regent of Siam 1962
  • I Shall Fear No Evil 1966
  • Rasputin 1972/3
  • Puffin Asquith 1973
  • Lola Montez 1976

Other books

His first book, "Shiva" of "The Future of India" was published in 1929 and banned, and Earl Winterton, Under-Secretary of State for India said it was debarred entry because it was offensive to the people of India[5].

  • Shiva, or the Future of India 1929
  • India Marches Past 1933
  • Hollywood by Starlight 1935
  • Midst Himalayan Mists
  • Excursions in Ink
  • Across India by Air
  • The Journalist
  • Night Life of Calcutta
  • How Vainly Men 1940
  • A Woman of France 1945
  • Nothing to Lose 1946 (filmed as "Time Gentlemen Please" 1952)
  • Talking of Films 1947
  • A Stag Party with Men Only 1955
  • Next Stop Peking 1957
  • The Private Papers of Hore Belisha 1960
  • No 10 Downing Street, a House in History 1963
  • The Film Maker and His World 1964
  • The Edwardian Age 1964
  • The Two Pillars of Charing Cross 1967
  • Recollections of George Bernard Shaw 1969
  • The Tower of London 1970
  • Hampton Court 1972

Plays

W.P. Lipscomb was co-author of Clive of India in 1933 which was first produced by the village players of Gt Hucklow in Derbyshire and it ran for over a year in London and was made into a film by 20th Century Fox in 1934 (4). With Sir Osbert Sitwell he wrote "Gentle Caesar", a biography of Tsar Nicholas II, first produced at Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham (1943) and "Red Horizon". With Juliet Rhys-Williams there was "They had his Number", which was first produced at the Hippodrome, Bolton in 1942. His play "The Voice of the People" was first produced in Southend in 1950.

  • Clive of India 1933
  • Gentle Caesar 1942
  • They Had His Number 1942
  • The Red Horizon 1943
  • The Voice of the People 1950

Films

Minney was hired to write the screenplay for the 1935 American film adaptation Clive of India by producer Darryl F. Zanuck. However he did not settle in Hollywood and returned to Britain. From 1942 he became a leading figure in the Gainsborough Pictures production team and with producer Ted Edward Black they produced a series of costume melodramas that dominated the market from 1942-46.[6] Other films he produced included The Wicked Lady[7] (1945, which apparently showed British films could compete with Hollywood), "Madonna of the Seven Moons", "The Magic Bow" and Osbert Sitwell’s "A Place of One's Own", with settings designed by Rex Whistler. He also produced a film of Terence Rattigan’s "The Final Test". They helped boost the career of new stars including Stewart Granger, James Mason, Patricia Roc and Margaret Lockwood. Stars who appeared in his pictures include Ronald Coleman, Loretta Young. He was employed on a number of the company's commercially successful Gainsborough Melodramas. However, he resigned from the Rank Organisation in 23 January 1947, unhappy with the direction of the company.[8]

He was Hon. President of the London School of Economics Film Society (1948-49 – 4), a member of Executive and General Council Association of Cine Technicians (1953-1956). Vice Chairman ACT Films Ltd (1951-1968) and Chairman from 1968.

Politics

He was Labour Party (UK) candidate for Southend East in 1950 and for Bexley in 1955. In 1955 Edward Heath won for the Conservatives with 28,610 votes (54.27%) and RJ for Labour won 24,111 votes (45.73%) in an 82.55% turnout of the 63,863 electorate.[9] In July 1956 he went to Peking to speak at the centenary celebrations for George Bernard Shaw.

Criticism

About "Next Stop Peking", The Times reviewer (28 Nov 1957) wrote "Mr Minney does not pretend to know. He was invited to China to take part in the Shaw centenary celebrations and stayed to do the regular tour and be impressed. This is another delegate's view among the many we have lately had from China - easily readable, superficial."

Travels

He travelled to Tibet on horseback across the Himalayas and flown across India in a plane that arrived in a packing case. He visited Japan, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaya, East Africa, Morocco, Egypt, the Middle East, Russia, South America, Turkey and most of the countries in Europe.

References

  1. Biography at author website
  2. Flyleaf notes of "The Governor's Lady" 1951
  3. Daily Telegraph, 6 April 1979. IN MEMORIAM - R J Minney
  4. Flyleaf notes of "The Governor's Lady" 1951
  5. R J Minney; Parliament. House of Commons, Monday 11 March. "The Future of India" The Times 12 March 1979
  6. http://www.screenonline.org.uk
  7. Biography at author website
  8. PRODUCER QUITS RANK IN SPLIT OVER POLICY New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 24 Jan 1947: 18.
  9. http://www.politicsresources.net/
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