James Clavell: A Critical Companion

James Clavell: A Critical Companion

James Clavell: A Critical Companion

James Clavell: A Critical Companion


The first book-length critical study of the work of cross-cultural novelist James Clavell.


“The child is father to the man.”

William Wordsworth


James du Maresq Clavell, self-described as a “half-Irish Englishman with Scots overtones,” was born in Sidney, Australia on October 10, 1924, the son of Richard Charles and Eileen (Collis) Clavell. He attended Portsmouth Grammar School, but after that, his education varied as his family followed his father’s military duty stations. Both his father and grandfather were British Royal Navy careerists who regaled young James with stories of the sea and of exotic ports worldwide. Clavell’s father, reputedly a descendant of Norman conqueror Walterus de Claville, instilled in him a strong sense of obligation and responsibility to this heritage, reminding him, “Remember, you are blessed by being British” (Current Biography 1981: 83). Clavell recounted this sense of heritage and duty in King Rat, in Peter Marlowe’s descriptions of his family military tradition and his training in proprieties. Often, British colonial settlers—Britishers who settled permanently in English colonial enclaves far from England— were reportedly more English than the English, and this was the case with the Clavells. Naval duties meant that the Clavells were stationed . . .

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