Britton, Lionel

Tagged: Author

(1887-1971) UK author, a conscientious objector during World War One who gained some prominence in the interwar period for Hunger and Love, Etc (1931), a speculative proletarian/modernist Dystopia, written before (and influential upon) but published after Brain: A Play of the Whole Earth (1930), a drama in which a giant Computer is set up in the Sahara to run human affairs according to ambiguously Utopian tenets. This it does until nearly the End of the World, when a wandering star collides with the planet. Spacetime Inn (performed 1931; 1932), also a play, expounds a vision of things derived in part from the theories of J W Dunne, though the main dramatic interest lies in the interactions of Eve, the Queen of Sheba, William Shakespeare, Queen Victoria, Karl Marx and George Bernard Shaw, as they explore the interstices of the pub that has become their world. A UK theatre licence having been refused because of the inclusion of Queen Victoria, Spacetime Inn has the unusual distinction of being the only play ever performed – or rather read, with Britton himself playing all the parts – in the House of Commons, on 10 June 1931. Animal Ideas: A Dramatic Symphony of the Human in the Universe (1935), less cogent as a drama, engages in similarly ambitious metaphysics. [JC]

Lionel Erskine Nimmo Britton

born Astwood Bank, Worcestershire: 4 November 1887

died Ramsgate, Kent: 9 January 1971


about the author

  • Adam Daly. "The Lost Genius of Britton: Proletarian Misfit, Apocalyptic Anarchist, Forgotten Genius" (Spring 2006 Wormwood #6) [p47ff: mag/]
  • Tony Shaw. "Lionel Britton: An Update" (Spring 2007 Wormwood #8) [p67ff: mag/]


Previous versions of this entry

Website design and build: STEEL

Site ©2011 Gollancz, SFE content ©2011 SFE Ltd.