James Hilton

Biografie şi Bibliografie

James Hilton (9 September 1900 – 20 December 1954) was an English novelist who wrote several best-sellers, including Lost Horizon and Goodbye, Mr. Chips.


Born in Leigh, James Hilton was the son of John Hilton, the headmaster of Chapel End School in Walthamstow.

Hilton wrote his two most remembered books, Lost Horizon and Goodbye, Mr. Chips while living in a rather ordinary semi-detached house on Oak Hill Gardens, Woodford Green. The house still stands, with a blue plaque marking Hilton's residence.

He was married twice, first to Alice Brown and later to Galina Kopineck. Both marriages ended in divorce. He died in Long Beach, California from liver cancer.


Hilton found literary success at an early age. His first novel, Catherine Herself, was published in 1920, when he was 20. Several of his books were international bestsellers and inspired successful film adaptations, notably Lost Horizon (1933), which won a Hawthornden Prize; Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1934); and Random Harvest (1941).

Lost Horizon

Lost Horizon, which sold briskly in the 1930s as one of the first Pocket Books (it in fact bore the serial number "1"), is sometimes referred to as the book that began the paperback revolution. Hilton is said to have been inspired to write Lost Horizon, and to invent "Shangri-La" by reading the National Geographic Magazine articles of Joseph Rock, an Austrian-American botanist and ethnologist exploring the southwestern Chinese provinces and Tibetan borderlands. Still living in Britain at the time, Hilton was perhaps influenced by the Tibetan travel articles of early travellers in Tibet whose writings were found in the British Library.[1] Christian Zeeman, the Danish father of the mathematician Sir Christopher Zeeman, has also been claimed to be the model for the hero of the story. He disappeared while living in Japan (where his son was born in 1925), and was reputed to be living incognito in a Zen Buddhist monastery.

Some say that the isolated valley town of Weaverville, California, in far northern Trinity County, was a source, but this is the result of a misinterpretation of a comment by Hilton in a 1941 interview, in which he said that Weaverville reminded him of Shangri-La.[citation needed] Coincidentally, Junction City (about 8 miles from Weaverville) now has a Tibetan Buddhist centre with the occasional Tibetan monks in saffron robes. The name "Shangri-La" has become a byword for a mythical utopia, a permanently happy land, isolated from the world. After the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, when the fact that the bombers had flown from an aircraft carrier remained highly classified, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt told the press facetiously that they had taken off from Shangri-La. The Navy subsequently gave that name to an aircraft carrier, and Roosevelt named his Maryland presidential retreat "Shangri-La". (Later, President Dwight D. Eisenhower renamed the retreat Camp David after his grandson, the name by which it is known today.) Zhongdian, a mountain region of Southwest China, has now been renamed Shangri-La (Xianggelila), based on its claim to have inspired Hilton's book

Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Hilton's father, the headmaster of Chapel End School in Walthamstow, was one of the inspirations for the character of Mr. Chipping in Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Hilton was born in Wilkinson Street, Leigh, and there is a teacher in Goodbye, Mr. Chips called Mr Wilkinson. The setting for Goodbye, Mr. Chips is believed to have been based on the Leys School, Cambridge, where James Hilton was a pupil. Chipping is also likely to have been based on W. H. Balgarnie, one of the masters of the school who was in charge of the Leys Fortnightly, where Hilton's first short stories and essays were published.

Oscar winner

Hilton, who lived and worked in Hollywood beginning in the mid-1930s, won an Academy Award in 1942 for his work on the screenplay of Mrs. Miniver, based on the novel by Jan Struther. He hosted The Hallmark Playhouse (1948–1953) for CBS Radio. One of his later novels, Morning Journey, was about the movie business.

Hilton's books

    Catherine Herself, 1920
    Storm Passage, 1922
    The Passionate Year, 1924
    Dawn Of Reckoning (Rage In Heaven), 1925
    Meadows Of The Moon, 1926
    Terry, 1927
    The Silver Flame (Three Loves Had Margaret), 1928
    Murder at School (U.S. title: Was It Murder?), published under the pen-name Glen Trevor, 1931
    And Now Goodbye, 1931
    Contango (Ill Wind), 1932
    Knight Without Armour (Without Armor), 1933
    Lost Horizon, 1933
    Goodbye, Mr. Chips, 1934
    We Are Not Alone, 1937
    To You, Mr Chips, 1938
    Random Harvest, 1941
    The Story Of Dr. Wassell, 1944
    So Well Remembered, 1945
    Nothing So Strange, 1947
    Twilight Of The Wise, 1949
    Morning Journey, 1951
    Time And Time Again, 1953

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