Biography and books of James Clavell
Biography and books of James Clavell

James Clavell is an American novelist and screenwriter. He became known to the general public as the author of the Asian Saga series of novels and their television adaptations. But no less interesting is the biography of this remarkable writer.

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A little about the author

Clavell was born in Sydney (Australia) in the family of an officer in the Royal Navy of Britain. His parents returned to England when James was a child. Educated in Portsmouth at a private school Gramma School. James decided to continue the military dynasty and in 1940 joined the Royal Artillery. He was in training when the war with Japan broke out and he was sent to Malaya.

In 1942, James was wounded and captured on about. Java. Clavell was sent to the infamous Changi Prison near Singapore. Of the fifteen prisoners here, only one survived. Clavell suffered greatly at the hands of his captors. “Changi became my university,” he later recalled, “Among the prisoners were experts in all areas of life. I studied and absorbed everything I could, from physics to counterfeiting. But betterlearned the art of survival." The book "The Rat King" by James Clavell tells more about these events.

Returning to England with the rank of captain, James had an accident that ended his military career. He entered the University of Birmingham and worked wherever he had to. During this time, he met his future wife, April Stride, an aspiring actress. Through her, he became interested in directing films. In 1953 they emigrated to America and settled in Hollywood. Before Clavell tried himself as a screenwriter, he worked for several years in film distribution as a simple worker.

Clavella's daughter Micaela played the role of Penelope Smallbone in the James Bond movie. But that was the end of her acting career. James Clavell died in September 1994 of a stroke in Switzerland, just a month short of his seventieth birthday.

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Writer debut

According to Clavell's first script, the 1958 sci-fi film The Fly was shot. The next was the script for the film "Vatusi", but he did not have much success. In 1959, author Clavell James writes the script for the war film Five Gates to Hell. This was the beginning of James' rise to success. For writing The Great Escape, Clavell was nominated for a Writers Guild Award for Best Screenplay.

He wrote, directed and produced several films, including Walking Like a Dragon (1960) and the most memorable To the Teacher, With Love (1967). Clavell is also the screenwriter of films such as "Satan's Mistake", "Tai-Pen", which was based onbook of the same name by James Clavell, 633 Squadron and Rat King.

After trying to act as a director, screenwriter and producer in one person in the film "Five Gates to Hell", Clavell continued to work on films in this capacity:

  • "Sweet and Bitter" (1967);
  • The Last Valley (1971);
  • Children's Story (1982).

Clavell is the writer and producer of the TV series Shogun and The Noble House, as well as the producer and director of Where's Jack? (1969). Clavell first tried his hand at fiction during a writers' strike in 1960. The authors demanded to pay interest on films broadcast on TV. The strike lasted 22 weeks.

james clavell book list

Literary activity

The Asian Saga series includes six novels written by Clavell between 1962 and 1993. Of the six novels in this cycle, four were filmed, where the author himself was directly involved. All novels are set in Asia - hence the name of the series.

The first novel, The Rat King (1962), was a semi-fictional story from his personal life - a horrific stay in Changi Prison. When James Clavell's book was published in 1962, it became a bestseller and was adapted into a movie 3 years later. The prototype of the protagonist was a real person, thanks to whom James survived in those terrible conditions. Clavell never admitted which parts of the novel were true and which were fictional.

The idea of ​​the novel "Shogun" (1975), assaid the author came to him when he was helping his daughter with her homework. She read about an Englishman who landed on the coast of Japan during the Tokugawa shogunate and became a samurai. "How did it happen?" Clavell asked. But there was nothing else in the textbook. James became interested, researched a lot of material on the subject and wrote a book.

Since the four novels are about the same family, it's easier to list James Clavell's books in chronological order instead of year of publication:

  1. The novel "Tai-Pan" (1966) was based on real historical events taking place in South China during the First Opium War, when British troops defended trade interests and expanded trade, primarily in opium. The book is about the clash of East and West, about the confrontation between the two rich families of Struan and Brock.
  2. The novel Gaijin (1993) is the second book about the Struan house. The novel is set in Japan in 1862.
  3. The Noble House (1981) takes the reader to 1960s Hong Kong. The Struan family faces new rivals and attacks, new challenges and opportunities. On top of this, the difficult situation in Hong Kong, where the interests of the USSR, the USA, Britain and China intersect.
  4. James Clavell's book "Whirlwind" (1986), and in Russian translation - "Shamal", tells about the Iranian revolution, which is a tangle of contradictions and groupings. It was not without the intrigues of the intelligence services of the United States and Great Britain, the services of Israel and the Soviet Union, as well as agents of the Struan family.
Jamesclavell best books

Story for kids

Children's Stories was first published in 1964 by Reader's Digest. A short story of 4300 words was reprinted in 1981 in book format. The action takes place in the United States after the war. It is assumed that America lost this war and was occupied by a victorious country, which is not specified by the author.

The previous teacher is being replaced by a teacher-agent of the new government. He is trained in propaganda methods and re-educates children so that they support the invaders and renounce their religion. The teacher is full of praise and hands out candy to the children.

Only one child dared to confront the teacher - Johnny. His father was arrested by the new government, but the boy fearlessly defends him in front of everyone. In this short story, Clavell touches on such important concepts as religion, freedom and patriotism.

The short story was adapted in 1982 for the Mobil Showcase anthology series. The story is only 25 minutes long. Mikaela Ross, Clavell's daughter, plays the role of the new teacher.

james clavell book

What makes Clavell's books interesting?

James's works are read in one breath. A person who has de alt with films for decades knows how to captivate the reader. The plots are exciting, interesting - love intrigues and family dramas, investigations and secrets, natural disasters and machinations. The climax creeps up unnoticed when everything seems to fall into place, the final touch unsettles the reader.

To say that there is a lot of history in the booksJapan and China - to say nothing. Clavell's books are a scrupulous and detailed immersion in the life of these countries, their traditions and customs. The novels of James Clavell are the best books about these countries. A colossal description of historical events and people. All the characters are revealed in such detail that, having mastered the historical component of the plot, reading becomes like watching a movie. In short, welcome to the "Asian Saga"!

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