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Summary Article: Douglas-Home, William
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Scottish dramatist. He is noted for his comedies, which include The Chiltern Hundreds (1947), The Secretary Bird (1968), Lloyd George Knew My Father (1972), and The Kingfisher (1977). He was the younger brother of the politician Alec Douglas-Home.

As a captain in the Royal Armoured Corps during World War II, he disobeyed orders by refusing to take part in the bombardment of Le Havre because the citizens had not been evacuated. This led to a court martial and a year in prison, an experience upon which his first real success, Now Barabbas (1945), was based.

Douglas-Home was born in Edinburgh, son of the 13th Earl of Home. He was educated at Eton and New College, Oxford, after which he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and acted for a while on the West End stage. He had written two plays – Great Possession (1937) and Passing By (1940) – before Now Barabbas, which was written in a fortnight shortly after his release from prison, and produced two years later at the Boltons Theatre, London. His last important work, Portraits (1987), was about the relationship between a famous portrait painter, Augustus John, and three of his equally famous sitters; but it was also about the futility of war and the horror of nuclear weapons. He published a volume of autobiography Half Term Report (1954) and another Mr Home Pronounced Hume (1979). Two other works followed: Sins of Commission and Old Men Remember (1991).

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Douglas-Home, William

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