John Haylock

Late-flowering novelist


John Haylock, novelist: born Bournemouth, Hampshire 22 September 1918; died Brighton, East Sussex 1 July 2006.

'Not until the end of my army service at the age of 28, did I realise I was a homosexual," the novelist John Haylock wrote in his 1997 autobiography Eastern Exchanges:

"I felt it was wiser to live in a tolerant land. I feared that my inclination might lead me into trouble. I did not want my widowed mother to know about it, though before she died I believe she had guessed. It was better to be in self-exile than a potential criminal."

Both the nature of his sexuality and that decision that he made because of it (homosexuality remained entirely illegal in England until 1967) were significantly to shape Haylock's life and his career as a writer.

Haylock was born into a comfortably-off family (his father was a GP) in Bournemouth in 1918. He was educated at Aldenham School, in France and at Pembroke College, Cambridge. His university career was interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War, though resumed, not entirely happily, after the cessation of hostilities. During the war he served as a liaison officer with the Greek army and the Belgium Colonial Forces in the Middle East - serving in Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Greece. Thereafter he remained contentedly out of Britain for much of his life.

After leaving Cambridge, John Haylock took a teaching post in Iraq, working in Baghdad between 1948 and 1956. Whilst there he co-wrote with a fellow expatriate, Desmond Stewart, New Babylon: a portrait of Iraq (1956), a fascinating account which shows his interest in and love for a country about to undergo immense political and social change.

From Baghdad, Haylock moved to Japan, teaching at Wasada University, Tokyo (1958-60 and 1962-63), and, later, as Visiting Professor of English Literature, at Rikkyo University, Tokyo (1975-85). His years in the Middle East and Orient inspired a series of novels which began with See You Again (1963) and It's All Your Fault (1964). Although he didn't publish another novel for 16 years, he did translate two books by the French writer Philippe Jullian: Robert de Montesquiou: a fin-de-siècle prince (with Francis King, 1967) and Flight into Egypt: a fantasy (1970).

Haylock's third novel, One Hot Summer in Kyoto, eventually appeared in 1980, but it wasn't until he had settled into happy retirement, spreading his year between Brighton, Tokyo and the Thai resort Chiang Mai, that he began to write and publish more consistently.

A Touch of the Orient (1990), Uneasy Relations (1993), Doubtful Partners (1998), Body of Contention (1999), Loose Connections (2004, though the book's printing history erroneously gives 2003 as the date of first publication) and his final novel, Sex Gets in the Way (2006), form, with the three earlier novels and the numerous short stories, a small but highly diverting and singularly unified body of work: they focus on the attractions and incompatibilities of most usually middle-class men and women when they coincide with appealing but frequently uncomprehending Orientals.

For one of his generation and background, John Haylock was remarkably candid about homosexuality and especially good on the sheer comedy of the sexual gavotte. His novels may have had something serious to say, but whatever point he had to make Haylock made it with such a lightness of touch that his readers often found themselves laughing out loud.

His autobiography Eastern Exchanges proved to be an entertainment woven from diverse traveller's tales and, ironically, told less about Haylock's life than his fiction, most notably the final revealing novel Sex Gets in the Way.

Besides his English publications, Haylock published five books in Japan, short stories in a wide variety of journals and anthologies and journalism in a range of publications including Blackwood's Magazine, London Magazine, Japan Times and Gay Times.

A convivial host with a great gift for friendship (Duncan Grant, Francis King, Robin Maugham, Yukio Mishima), John Haylock was a survivor from a generation of well-off gay men who made their lives abroad because when they were young Britain was inhospitable and when they were old it was incomprehensible.

Peter Burton

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Project Manager (infrastructure, upgrades, rollouts)

£38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments