Clive James

From Academic Kids

Clive James (born October 10, 1939) is an expatriate Australian writer, poet, essayist, critic, and commentator on popular culture.

Born in Sydney, Australia as Vivian James, he was allowed to change his name as a child after "Vivian" had come to be seen as a girl's name due to the success of Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind. His father was taken prisoner by the Japanese during World War II and, although he survived the POW camp, died when the plane returning him to Australia crashed. James, who was an only child, was therefore brought up by his mother in the Sydney suburb of Kogarah. He was educated at the University of Sydney where he became associated with the Sydney Push, a libertarian, intellectual sub-culture. After graduating James worked for The Sydney Morning Herald.

In 1962 James moved to England, which he has now made his home. After a number of years spent in London, during which time he shared a flat with the Australian film director Bruce Beresford and had a variety of (sometimes disastrous) short term jobs (sheet metal worker, librarian, photo archivist, market researcher) he was able to gain a place at Pembroke College, Cambridge to read English Literature. Whilst there he was a member (and, at one point, President) of the Cambridge Footlights. His contemporaries at Cambridge included Germaine Greer and Eric Idle.

He worked as a television critic for The Observer between 1972 and 1982, and subsequently hosted the ITV show Clive James on Television, in which he showcased unusual or (often unintentionally) amusing television programs from around the world. Unreliable Memoirs, an account of his early life in Australia, was published in 1980. This was followed by two further volumes of autobiography: Falling Towards England (1985), which covered his London years, and May Week was in June (1990), which dealt with his time at Cambridge.

One of his most famous quotations concering television is: "Anyone afraid of what he thinks television does to the world is probably just afraid of the world."

During the seventies he collaborated on six albums of songs with Pete Atkin: Beware Of The Beautiful Stranger (1970), Driving Through Mythical America (1971), A King At Nightfall (1973), The Road Of Silk (1974), Secret Drinker (1974), and Live Libel (1975).

In the mid-1980s, James featured in a travel program called Clive James in... (beginning with Clive James in Las Vegas) for LWT (now ITV) and later switched to BBC where he continued producing travel programs, this time called Clive James' Postcard from... (beginning with Clive James' Postcard from Miami).

In 1992 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia and in 2003 he was awarded the Philip Hodgins memorial medal for literature.

Bibliography

  • Biography
    • Unreliable Memoirs (1980)
    • Falling Towards England (1985)
    • May Week Was in June (1990)
  • Fiction
    • Brilliant Creatures (1983)
    • The Remake (1987)
    • Brmm! Brmm! (1991)
    • The Silver Castle (1996)
  • Poetry
    • The Fate of Felicity Fark in the Land of the Media : a moral poem (1975)
    • Peregrine Prykke's Pilgrimage Through the London Literary World (1976)
    • Britannia Bright's Bewilderment in the Wilderness of Westminster (1976)
    • Fan-mail: seven verse letters (1977)
    • Charles Charming's Challenges on the Pathway to the Throne (1981)
    • Poem of the Year (1983)
    • Other Passports:poems 1958-1985 (1986)
    • The Book of My Enemy (2003)
  • Non-Fiction
    • The Metropolitan Critic (1974)
    • Visions Before Midnight : television criticism from the Observer 1972-76 (1977)
    • At the Pillars of Hercules (1979)
    • The Crystal Bucket : television criticism from the Observer 1976-79 (1981)
    • From the Land of Shadows (1982)
    • Glued to the Box : television criticism from the Observer 1979-82 (1983)
    • Flying Visits : Postcards from the Observer, 1976-83 (1984)
    • Snakecharmers in Texas : essays 1980-87 (1988)
    • The Dreaming Swimmer: non-fiction, 1987-1992 (1992)
    • Fame in the 20th Century (1993)

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