An Irishman's England
John Stewart Collis
As an Irishman educated in England, John Stewart Collis had a unique perspective on his adopted country. Sufficiently distanced, he could observe and record without bias or malice. Here he portrays the extravagance and the apparent contradictions of the English. After a rapid discussion of London and the provinces, he then examines English political and cultural life. In so doing, Collis holds up a sympathetic mirror and makes some perceptive and enlightening revelations about England and the English.
Author biography:John Stewart Collis The son of a prosperous Dublin solicitor, John Stewart Collis (1900-1984) was educated at Rugby School and Balliol, Oxford. After a short time at theological college, he became a writer. His first book – a critical study of George Bernard Shaw – was published to wide acclaim. Unable to repeat this success, he spent the pre-war years living in poverty. His fortunes changed in 1940 when he became a farm labourer working on the land in Dorset and Sussex. These experiences were published as the classic 'The Worm Forgives the Plough'.
In 1947, Collis’ talents were officially recognised when he won the Heinemann Foundation Award for Literature. He wrote biographies of Christopher Columbus, Havelock Ellis and Leo Tolstoy and is also celebrated for his works on natural phenomena in which he took a scientific subject and described it from the layperson’s point of view. Full of curiosity for the things most of us take for granted, these are the works of which Collis was most proud.
His imaginative autobiography, 'Bound Upon a Course', also reawakened interest in his earlier works and brought him belated recognition as a pioneer in the ecological movement.