Friday, June 7, 2019

David Hussey

David Hussey (b. Westham, Essex, 7 April 1903; d. London, 9 September 1959)

David Macdonald Hussey was the son of Edmund Hussey (1862-1959) and his wife Florence Jane, nee Thornber (1867-1931), who were married in the summer of 1890.  David had two older sisters, one younger sister, and an older brother who was killed in World War I.

David attended the Cherry Orchard school in Blackheath, 1913-1917, and the Windermere Grammar School, 1917-1921, before matriculating at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in October 1921.  He read History for his first two years, and then English in his final year (B.A. 1924).  He was awarded a scholarship of £40 for 1924-25. 

In 1924 Hussey was appointed Lecturer in English at the University of Ceylon, and promoted to Professor of English in 1932. He married Dora Eyden (1898-1970), a scientist and graduate of Girton College, Cambridge, on 27 September 1927 at Columbo in Ceylon. 

As David Macdonald Hussey he published a series of books on Ceylon and World History (1930-1936), and retired from the University of Ceylon in 1935, moving back to England and settling near London.  He published three works of fiction as David Hussey, No Sting, No Honey (London: Arthur Barker, [December] 1938),  The Empty Bowl (1943) and Fort Carteret (1948).  From about 1947 he held high office in the Air Ministry, and visited Ceylon again in 1957, and was preparing an official inspection of R.A.F. stations in the Far East when he suddenly fell ill. He died a few months later in the R.A.F. Hospital in Uxbridge, Middlesex. 

Hussey's first novel, No Sting, No Honey, is his only fantasy. In it, three men are shipwrecked on an island in the South Pacific, where they find it to be a vast farm run by women along the lines of a bee colony, ruled by Hive Orders, with Frame-Commanders and Comb-Captains, and a Queen Bee (a wealthy old lady of ninety). The Times Literary Supplement noted that "there are some ingenious decorations in Mr. Hussey's picture of the hive, where two parties, the Traditionalists and the Realists, contend for supremacy. But the fragments are better than the whole. . . . Farce and fantasy, in sum, do not blend very well in this book, though admittedly it has sly and engaging moments" (17 December 1938).  

The Empty Bowl begins in Ceylon two thousand years ago. It concerns an old monk, who in his search for Absolute Reality has traveled far (even to Rome, briefly conversing with the disciple Peter, though he finds Christian truth unsatisfying). The novel tells of his travels with a young soldier, as they exchange stories.The Spectator noted that "David Hussey has created a moving legend with skill and wit; writing it gave him escape from present troubles. This short novel is dedicated to a night-sister in an R.A.F. hospital" (22 April 1943).

Fort Carteret is set on the Hudson River where the passengers and crew of an aircraft are marooned in Arctic darkness and in order to pass the time, they each recount stories from their past experiences. 

*Thanks to Amanda Goode, Emmanuel College Archivist, for information on Hussey's academic record, and thanks to Jonathan Lux for sharing photos.

No comments:

Post a Comment