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Dennis, Nigel

Entry updated 25 July 2019. Tagged: Author.

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(1912-1989) UK author whose first novel, Chalk and Cheese: A Co-Educational School Novel (1934) as by Richard Vaughan, is a Satire lying just short of the fantastic; his third novel, Cards of Identity (1955), is a Fabulation about a post-World War Two England whose citizens are so bereft of security that any Identity can be imposed on anyone (see also Paranoia); the final section, entitled "The Prince of Antioch, or An Old Way to New Identity", constitutes an entire (and entirely fraudulent) Shakespeare play, hilariously couched. A London stage adaptation by the author was first performed 26 June 1956. Dennis's next play, The Making of Moo: A History of Religion in Three Acts (first performed 25 June 1957; in Two Plays and a Preface coll 1958), begins with hapless colonial officials concocting a synthetic Religion intended to "improve" the natives' behaviour, with disastrous consequences; the critic Kenneth Tynan (1927-1980) described this black Thought Experiment as "a milestone in history: the first outright attack on religion to be presented on the English stage ..." In A House in Order (1966) identity is again imperilled as the protagonist, under increasingly surreal assault, attempts to act as though World War Three were not happening around him, which it literally is.

Dennis's first-novel pseudonym should not be confused with the author Richard Vaughan. [JC/DRL]

Nigel Forbes Dennis

born Bletchingly, Surrey: 16 January 1912

died Moreton in Marsh, Warwickshire: 19 July 1989

works (selected)

  • Chalk and Cheese: A Co-Educational School Novel (London: John Miles, 1934) as by Richard Vaughan [hb/]
  • Cards of Identity (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1955) [cover is credited to "Lucien" Freud: hb/Lucian Freud]
  • Two Plays and a Preface (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1958) [plays: coll: comprising an adaptation of Cards of Identity, first performed 26 June 1956 Royal Court Theatre, London, and The Making of Moo, first performed 25 June 1957 Royal Court Theatre, London: hb/Lucien Freud]
  • A House in Order (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1966) [hb/]

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