Julian Maclaren-Ross may well be better known as a literary character than as a first-class writer, though his memoirs are certainly well worth reading and he knew many of the important artistic people of that era, from Dylan Thomas to Augustus John. Indeed, he was so well-known that he appeared (as Angus Stenforth Simms) in Roland Camberton's Scamp and (as Francis X Trapnel) in Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time. Neither portrait is particularly flattering. Of his fiction, he is best-known for Of Love and Hunger, which is a witty view of England just before World War II and its 200 pages are well worth reading.
He was born James McLaren Ross (he changed his name in later life) in London in 1912. His parents moved first to Bournemouth and then to the French Riviera, where he was educated. He returned to England in his early twenties, where he had a very short-lived marriage. When his grandfather cut off his allowance, he worked as a vacuum cleaner salesman, which he used as the basis for Of Love and Hunger. He did manage to sell a radio play and short story, before being conscripted into the army during World War II. He continued to write stories while in the army and had some success with them, before deserting. When arrested, he had a nervous breakdown but was eventually released. His first book - satirical stories about army life - was published in 1944 and had some success. He continued to have success with his writing, including novels, short stories and script-writing. However, as he says, the 1950s were not good to him. He had a series of unsuccessful love affairs, spent a short time in prison and his literary career lost steam. He died of a heart attack in 1964 and was buried in an unmarked grave. Despite various efforts to revive his reputation, he is now little remembered, except for his fictional persona of Francis X Trapnel.
Books about Julian Maclaren-Ross