Kingsley Amis

From Academic Kids

Sir Kingsley William Amis (April 16, 1922October 22, 1995) was an English novelist, poet, critic, and teacher. He wrote more than twenty novels, three collections of poetry, short stories, radio and television scripts, and books of social and literary criticism.

Kingsley Amis was born in London, educated at the City of London School, and St. John's College, Oxford, where he met Philip Larkin, forming the most important friendship of his life. After serving in the army's Royal Corps of Signals, he completed university in 1947, and was a lecturer in English at the University of Wales Swansea (194861), and Cambridge (196163).

Amis achieved popular success with his first novel Lucky Jim, which is considered the exemplary novel of Fifties Britain. The novel won the Somerset Maugham Award for fiction and Amis was associated with the writers labelled Angry Young Men. Lucky Jim is a seminal work, the first English novel featuring an ordinary man as anti-hero. As a poet, Amis was associated with The Movement.

As a young man, Kingsley Amis was vocally Stalinist, and a member of the Communist Party. He became disillusioned with Communism, finally breaking with it when the USSR invaded Hungary in 1956. Thereafter, Amis was stridently anti-communist, even reactionary. He discusses his political change of heart in the 1967 essay "Why Lucky Jim Turned Right"; it percolates into later works such as Russian Hide and Seek (1980).

Amis' novel about a group of retired friends, The Old Devils, won the Booker Prize in 1986. He was knighted in 1990.

Amis was twice married, first in 1948 to Hilary Bardwell, then to novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard, in 1965; they divorced in 1983. He had three children, including the novelist Martin Amis, who movingly wrote of his father's life and decline, largely due to alcohol, in his memoir Experience.


Science fiction

Amis's critical interest in science fiction led to New Maps of Hell (1960), his interpretation of the genre's literary qualities. He was particularly enthusiastic about the dystopian works of Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, and, in New Maps of Hell, he coined the term "comic inferno", describing a type of humorous dystopia, particularly common to the works of Robert Sheckley. With the Sovietologist Robert Conquest, he produced the science fiction anthology series Spectrum IIV, which heavily drew upon the 1950s magazine Astounding Science Fiction for sources. He wrote two science fiction novels, The Alteration, an alternate history novel set in a twentieth-century Great Britain where the Reformation never occurred; and the supernatural-horror novel, The Green Man, which the BBC adapted for television.

James Bond

Kingsley Amis became associated with Ian Fleming's creation, James Bond, in the 1960s, writing critical works connected with the fictional spy, either under a pseudonym or uncredited. He wrote the popular The James Bond Dossier under his own name. Later, he wrote, The Book of Bond, or, Every Man His Own 007, a tongue-in-cheek, how-to manual about being a sophisticated spy, under the pseudonym "Lt. Col. William 'Bill' Tanner", Tanner being M's Chief of Staff in many of Fleming's Bond novels.

It is widely claimed that, after Fleming died in 1964 following completion of an early draft of The Man with the Golden Gun, the publisher commissioned Amis and possibly other writers to finalize the manuscript. Bond historians and Fleming biographers have, in recent years, debunked this long-time theory, indicating that no such ghostwriter was ever employed. (see here for more on the controversy and speculation)

In 1968, the owners of the James Bond property, Glidrose Publications, attempted to continue the literary series by hiring different novelists, all writing under the pseudonym "Robert Markham." Kingsley Amis was the first to write a Robert Markham novel, Colonel Sun, but no further Markham imprint books were published. It is widely believed that Amis had planned to write a second Bond novel after Colonel Sun, but was talked out of it.

Partial Bibliography


1947 Amis's first collection of poems, Bright November
1953 A Frame of Mind
1954 Poems: Fantasy Portraits.
1954 Amis also published his first novel, Lucky Jim
1955 That Uncertain Feeling
1956 A Case of Samples: Poems 1946-1956.
1958 I Like it Here
1960 Take a Girl Like You
1960 New Maps of Hell
1960 Hemingway in Space (short story), Punch Dec 1960
1962 My Enemy's Enemy
1962 The Evans County
1963 One Fat Englishman
1965 The Egyptologist (with Robert Conquest.
1965 The James Bond Dossier
1965 The Book of Bond, or Every Man His Own 007, under the pseudonym "Lt.-Col William ('Bill') Tanner"
1966 The Anti-Death League
1968 Colonel Sun, a James Bond novel, under the pseudonym "Robert Markham."
1969 The Green Man
1970 What Became of Jane Austen and Other Questions
1971 Girl, 20
1972 On Drink
1973 The Riverside Villas Murders
1974 Ending Up
1974 Rudyard Kipling and his World
1976 The Alteration
1978 Jake's Thing
1979 Collected Poems 1944-78
1980 Collected Short Stories
1983 Every Day Drinking
1984 How's Your Glass?
1984 Stanley and the Women
1986 The Old Devils
1988 Difficulties With Girls
1990 The Folks That Live on the Hill
1990 The Amis Collection
1991 Memoirs
1991 Mr Barrett's Secret and Other Stories
1994 The Russian Girl
1994 The semi-autobiographical You Can't Do Both was published.
1998 The King's English: A Guide to Modern Usage

Poets in The Amis Anthology: A Personal Choice of English Verse (1988)

Richard Aldington - Kenneth Allott - Matthew Arnold - Kenneth Ashley - W. H. Auden - William Barnes - Oliver Bayley - Hilaire Belloc - John Betjeman - Laurence Binyon - William Blake - Edmund Blunden - Rupert Brooke - Robert Browning - Robert Burns - Thomas Campbell - Thomas Campion - G. K. Chesterton - Hartley Coleridge - Robert Conquest - W. J. Cory - John Davidson - Donald Davie - C. Day Lewis - Walter De la Mare - Ernest Dowson - Michael Drayton - Lawrence Durrell - Jean Elliot - George Farewell - James Elroy Flecker - Thomas Ford - Roy Fuller - Robert Graves - Thomas Gray - Fulke Greville - Heath - Reginald Heber - Felicia Dorothea Hemans - W. E. Henley - George Herbert - Ralph Hodgson - Thomas Hood - Teresa Hooley - Gerard Manley Hopkins - A. E. Housman - Henry Howard - T. E. Hulme - Leigh Hunt - Elizabeth Jennings - Samuel Johnson - John Keats - Henry King - Charles Kingsley - Rudyard Kipling - Philip Larkin - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - John Lydgate - H. F. Lyte - Louis MacNeice - Andrew Marvell - John Masefield - Alice Meynell - Harold Monro - William Morris - Edwin Muir - Henry Newbolt - Alfred Noyes - Wilfred Owen - Thomas Love Peacock - George Peele - Alexander Pope - Frederic Prokosch - Walter Ralegh - John Crowe Ransom - Christina Rossetti - Siegfried Sassoon - John Skelton - Robert Southey - Edmund Spenser - Sir John Squire - Robert Louis Stevenson - Sir John Suckling - Algernon Charles Swinburne - George Szirtes - Alfred, Lord Tennyson - Dylan Thomas - Edward Thomas - R. S. Thomas - Francis Thompson - Anthony Thwaite - Chidiock Tichborne - Aurelian Townsend - W. J. Turner - Oscar Wilde - John Wilmot, Lord Rochester - Roger Woddis - Charles Wolfe - William Wordsworth - W. B. Yeats - Andrew Youngcy:Kingsley Amis de:Kingsley Amis gl:Kingsley Amis it:Kingsley Amis nl:Kingsley Amis


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