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Charlton, L E O

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1879-1958) UK author and military officer (in the Royal Flying Corps throughout World War One) whose career became precarious after the war ended; on secondment to Iraq in the early 1920s, he had responded negatively to his discovery that "an air bomb in Iraq was, more or less, the equivalent of a police truncheon at home", and resigned his post. Much of his writing from this point deals with war in the air; his predictions of the extent of air power in the future perhaps overestimated its effect, but he did prefigure aspects of World War Two in books like War from the Air: Past, Present, Future (1935); War Over England (1936; cut vt The Next War 1937 chap), the vt of the latter volume comprising a Future War tale, and The Menace of the Clouds (1937). In the last of these, Charlton argued vigorously that the next war would be won from the air, and advocated the establishment of an airborne "International Strategic Reserve" to maintain a planet-wide Pax Aeronautica. In an epilogue dated 2000, he describes the ISR's 1942 success in enforcing an unconditional surrender on warmongering Italy, and the beginning of a peaceful World State (see H G Wells) under the aegis of a Tribunal of International Justice.

Of Charlton's fiction, The Flying Photographers (1936) is a Near Future tale for Young Adult readers involving Inventions, while The Bush Aerodrome (1937) features an advanced autogyro which, if properly taken advantage of, is set to transform the continent of Africa though without exploiting native Africans. By the mid-1930s, very unusually for an ex-military man who authored children's books, Charlton had become a socialist. [JC]

Air Commodore Lionel Evelyn Oswald Charlton

born London: 7 July 1879

died Hexham, Northumberland: 18 April 1958

works (selected)


  • War from the Air: Past, Present, Future (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1935) [nonfiction: a set of lectures delivered at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1934: hb/]
  • War Over England (London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1936) [nonfiction: hb/John French]
    • The Next War (London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1937) [story: chap: cut vt of the above: containing part 3 only: hb/]
  • The Menace of the Clouds (London: William Hodge and Company, 1937) [nonfiction: hb/H W Perl]


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