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A Life to Remember - William MacQuitty

Quartet, 1991, Hardback in Dust Wrapper.
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Dust wrapper a little rubbed at the head of the lower panel. Pages lightly age-tanned.

Illustrated with black and white photographs. From the cover: “An ant trapped in a block of amber, a brass Vishnu, an ivory Buddha, a blue faience Osiris — these were the emblems William MacQuitty discovered as a boy in an old deed-box in his parents’ house in Bangor, Northern Ireland. He vowed he would never be caught like the ant.

He became, as his old headmaster put it, ‘a luxury tramp’, a merchant banker of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China. Posted to Amritsar in 1926, he surveyed the twilight of the Raj with the sceptical eye of an Ulsterman. He became a member of the Auxiliary Punjab Light Horse, took up yoga and scandalized the memsahibs by consorting with natives. He encountered a haunting in a forest; met a sadhu (holy man) whose destiny seemed mysteriously linked with his own; entered into his first passionate romance with Kim, a beautiful Anglo-Indian girl; and witnessed the appalling Cawnpore massacre of 1931.

On the eve of the Second World War, amid the horrors of Shanghai under Japanese occupation, he resigned from the bank to be with his dying mother in Ireland. A new career in film production led to his making many important British documentaries and features of the 1940s and 1950s, from Out of Chaos, a film about the work of the war artists, to A Night to Remember, the first film to tell the authentic story of the sinking of the Titanic, a ship he had watched being launched in 1911. In 1959 he founded Ulster Television, one of the most successful of commercial television stations. Not long afterwards, his alternative though unadopted plan for preserving Abu Simbel after the building of the Aswan High Dam started him on yet another career as the writer-photographer of fifteen books.

A Life to Remember offers vivid glimpses of such friends as the unorthodox psychiatrist Wilhelm Stekel, the painter Stanley Spencer and the entertainer Beatrice Lillie; and of such legendary figures as the Dalai Lama and the Shah of Persia. With its richness of anecdote, humour and insight, it is one of the warmest and most entertaining books of personal memoirs to be published in recent years.”


Foreword or introduction by Arthur C. Clarke. Size: 9½" x 6¼". Black boards with Turquoise titling to the Spine. 390 pages.
£8.50