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John Sleigh Pudney ( January 19th, 1909 - November 10th, 1977 ) was born at Langley Marish ( Berkshire, England ).
He was educated at Gresham's School in Holt ( Norfolk, England ). In 1925, he left school at the age of 16, and spent several years working as an estate agent and studying to become a surveyor. However, he began contributing articles to the News Chronicle at the same time, also writing short stories and channelling his love of the countryside into verse. His first published collection of verse, Spring Encounter, came out in 1933.
John Pudney also wrote for The Listener, and worked as a producer at the BBC. His first novel, Jacobson's Ladder, describing literary and criminal life in 1930's Soho, appeared in 1938.
In 1940, he was commissioned into the R.A.F. as an Intelligence Officer and as a member of the Air Ministry's Creative Writers Unit ( a non - combatant role ). He also served as Squadron Intelligence Officer at R.A.F. St. Eval ( Cornwall, England ). John Pudney published several collections of poetry during the war, including Dispersal Point ( 1942 ) and South of Forty ( 1943, describing the author's experiences in North Africa ).
After the war, he continued to write and worked as a journalist and editor. He was the book critic for The Daily Express from 1945 and with the News Review from 1948 to 1950. He then shifted into publishing, as a Director and Literary Adviser to Evans Brothers, Ltd ( 1950 - 1953 ) and Putnam & Co Ltd ( 1953 - 1963 ).
Most significantly while at Evans, John Pudney commissioned the Australian fighter pilot and prisoner of war Paul Brickhill ( 1916 - 1991 ) to come to Great Britain and write The Great Escape, which Evans published in 1950 attracting much attention. He had previously suggested to the Air Historical Branch of the British Air Ministry that Paul Brickhill should be considered as the author of a history of No. 617 Squadron. After the success of The Great Escape, this was also published by Evans as The Dam Busters ( 1951 ). It sold over one million copies in its first 50 years.
John Pudney's prolific work included poetry, novels, short stories, books for children, autobiographies and non fictions as well. However, poetry remained the most important to him. His later work, from the collection Spill Out ( 1967 ) onward, took on a more ironic stance but was still vernacular rather than academic, a period reflected in his second Selected Poems collection of 1973. His final two poems appeared in the Times Literary Supplement a few days after his death.
( source : Wikipedia )