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From Journey’s End to The Dam Busters (Hardback)

The Life of R.C. Sherriff, Playwright of the Trenches

WWI Military Biography Dambusters

By Roland Wales
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9781473860698
Published: 20th October 2016

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As featured in the Daily Mail and The Times

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Kingston playwright R.C. Sherriff came to fame with his First World War drama Journey’s End, which was based on his own experiences as a young officer on the Western Front. Its success made him a household name and opened the door to a highly lucrative career as a novelist, playwright and screenwriter in Hollywood and in Britain.

Many of his movies – The Invisible Man, Goodbye Mr Chips, The Four Feathers, Odd Man Out, Quartet, and, of course, The Dam Busters – are still well known, but the man behind them much less so. This book rediscovers Sherriff using his own words – his letters, diaries, published and unpublished manuscripts – to shed light on a man who ironically gained his greatest success from the trench warfare he found so difficult to bear.

From Journey's End to the Dambusters is a fine and important account of a hugely successful career which grew from a singular man's experience of war.
Roland Wale's book is a fine record of a fascinating man.

Stand To! Western Front Assc No.110

A meticulously researched, factual and entertaining read. Shows R C Sherriff in a totally new light - it gives far more depth to him as a playwright, author and man. I love the way it show both the successes and failures too. A "must" for anyone interested in R C Sherriff!

Amazon Reviewer

Superb account of a very good writer best known for one play but whose achievements were many and varied. Exhaustively researched, well written, a real delight. It looks at his unproduced scripts as well. I loved this.

Amazon Reviewer US

The book developed as it progressed into a really insightful analysis of Sherriff's work and motivations. Starting as almost a detective story of his early life and career- obscured by his autobiography in part - it moved onto a description of his literary biography before finally examining the pressures on a writer who became unfashionable before he ran out of creative intent. Compelling picture of the man.

Amazon Reviewer

The play Journey's End was performed everywhere during the inter-war years but there was much more to the author than that, and you can read all about him in this welcome new biography.

This England, Spring 2017

As featured on Dove Grey Reader.

Dovgreyreader Scribbles

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. A thoroughly researched and clearly written account of one of the finest playwrights and screenwriters of the 20th Century. The insight Wales brings to Sherriff's life is long overdue, the life itself fascinating and the story of that life told in eminently readable form. It deserves to be widely read.

TomT, Amazon Reviewer

Roland Wales clearly has great affection for his subject, as he charts R C Sherriff’s life and career as a successful writer; principally of plays, film scripts and novels. However, it is not an uncritical appreciation. Wales’ meticulous research puts Sherriff in clear context with the events around him and how they in turn influenced and were reflected in his actions, even when Sherriff’s own autobiography often chose to go with a good story when the truth was at odds with his own preferred plot. But Wales has taken a lead from Sherriff’s own ability to entertain, in creating a fascinating record of a man who found early celebrity status through his smash hit play “Journey’s End” but never really fully fitted into Hollywood’s celebrity lifestyle. R C Sherriff’s legacy lives on, not only in the body of his work but in the funding his legacy provides for sports and arts in the area around Kingston Upon Thames. It is a story well told and worth reading. Recommended.

ThamesAngle, Amazon Reviewer

As featured in

Woking News & Mail

A comprehensive account of the life of R C Sherriff, junior officer
and famous writer. One of the WWI survivors who made a lucrative career as a novelist, playwright and screenwriter. His movie work is still very well known but not the man. This book provides a full picture – great read.

Read the full review here.

Firetrench

As reviewed in

Essence Magazine

As featured in

Exploring Surrey's Past

As featured in.

The Times

As featured in.

The Daily Mail

About Roland Wales

Roland Wales worked as an economist at the Bank of England for many years, and then as Policy Director at the Labour Party. He became interested in R.C. Sherriff when his two sons attended Sherriff’s old school, Kingston Grammar, and he became Chair of the parents’ support group for rowing – the Sherriff Club. He produced several Sherriff-themed theatrical nights, and worked closely with the Surrey History Centre in their successful bid for Heritage Lottery Fund support of the Sherriff Archive, including writing a well reviewed play, How Like It All Is, examining the links between Sherriff’s wartime experiences and his subsequent work.

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