Friday, 7 January 2011

Douglas Hayes

Peter Yapp writes in response to my post about Douglas Hayes:

Re your interest in Douglas Hayes - in case you haven't found out any more about him: 'Tomorrow the Apricots' is part of a - largely autobiographical? - sextet called overall, 'The History of a Selfish Man' - beginning with 'My Father in his Dizzerbell' and ending with 'Quite a Good Address.' His most famous novel, 'The Comedy Man' possibly the truest, least sentimental and funniest novel ever written about the lives of jobbing actors was filmed with Kenneth More and Angela Douglas in the cast. The film is fun, but the book is better. I too have tried to find out what became of him. A dust-jacket blurb claims that he walked out of the cast of a West End play in the mid-1950s and went to Australia, implying that most of his novels - nine altogether I think - were written while globetrotting and living out of a suitcase. I can't find out whether he is alive, but haven't yet gone to the lengths of looking up wills and death certificates. The last trace I've seen is a letter to The Times in the mid-Seventies complaining about the derisory proceeds of the public lending right and stating that he was currently working in a meat-packing factory. Abelard-Schumann who published 'Comedy Man' are no longer in business. When I made enquiries of Macmillan who published the sextet, they said they had been taken over since they published those books, and their records lost. - I hope this is useful: if you do find out more about this elusive author I'd be grateful for any information.

Anybody out there know anything more?


Loretta Alexander said...

I too would love to know what happened in Douglas Hayes' life after the early Seventies. We had a brief correspondence at that time, but being very busy I stupidly let it slip. He sent me a signed copy of Quite a Good Address, his (then) latest book, which I treasure. At that time he was living in St John's Wood in London (he wrote from his home address rather than from Macmillan, generous and unusual in a writer. He was feeling depressed in one letter and wrote 'I'm tired after my day's work, trying to put Wellington on paper, the way it was, as Uncle Ernie Hemingway would say, and I'm rather sad because of a break with old friends. I took the wife's part. She's been so badly treated. One can't always stand aside....Next year I must go away.....'. He wrote in long hand except for that one letter, and then he apologised for 'brown type'. 'Quite a Good Address' is a great book, a 'masterly evocation of the early Fifties', according to the blurb on the dust jacket. The six books which comprise 'The History of a Selfish Man' deserve to be reprinted, but has anyone still got the original manuscripts?


My Dear Loretta,
I reside in Cornwall and I met Douglas Hayes in Porthtowan Cornwall in the 70s - yes a really nice guy, in fact we got on very well. Especially for my love of the film world, and by knowing of The Film The Comedy Man, and the cast made a big difference. Yes he was living in St. John's Wood, London. But he told me of the time when he lived next door to Noel Coward and Marlon Brandow.

Benglur Badass said...

I live in Mysore, India and I read Douglas Hayes' "A Shy Young Man", "My Father in His Dizzerbell", and "Tomorrow The Apricots" while I was a 'shy young man' myself in early 1970s! Brilliant semi-autobiographical sketches and a great sense of humour with the Raj idioms and 30s and 40s England mixed in. I still have a copy of "Tomorrow the Apricots".

Can some publisher re-issue Douglas Hayes' books?

NS Manjunath

Patrick Wright said...

I second the previous requests for re-issue. I've read most of his books and they were so evocative of the eras he wrote about. The book I still have is "My father in his Dizzerbell.