Obituary: Sir Anthony Glyn Bt

Geoffrey Leo Simon Davson, writer: born London 13 March 1922; succeeded 1937 as second Bt; assumed by deed poll 1957 the surname Glyn and the additional forename Anthony; married 1946 Susan Rhys Williams (one daughter, and one daughter deceased); died Villeneuve-Loubet, France 20 January 1998.

Anthony Glyn was a writer of great charm and brilliance. Writing was in his blood. He was born Geoffrey Davson, but his maternal grandmother was Elinor Glyn, and it was under the pen-name of Anthony Glyn that he published his first novel in 1953. He subsequently took the name by deed poll.

Born in 1922, he was educated at Eton, where he founded the Eton Literary Society. Commissioned into the Welsh Guards in 1941, he became an intelligence officer and was a year in the field after D-Day, from the Arromanches beaches to the Rhine crossings. When his own unit was not the spearhead of the advance, he would be sent ahead in a scout car to get news of the battle in front and report back. This could be hazardous. On one occasion he was sent into a town to "go and see whether the Sappers have been in yet to clear mines and booby-traps". "How do I do that, Sir?" "Just drive down the main street and then round and round the town and see if you get blown up."

After demobilisation he joined the family firm in the West Indies where his father, Sir Edward Davson, whom he succeeded as second Baronet in 1937, had built up interests in sugar, cattle, and timber. But he wanted to write. His first novel, Romanza, published in 1953, was followed the next year by a second, The Jungle of Eden, and, in 1955, by a biography of his grandmother, Elinor Glyn. This book, and others, was written in the Jane Austen village of Chawton, where the family owned a thatched cottage. His daughter Caroline, who died of heart trouble in Australia in 1981 and was herself a novelist of note, was brought up in the village. His younger daughter became a barrister.

In 1946 Glyn had married Susan, daughter of Sir Rhys Rhys Williams Bt. They were a devoted couple, and when one day he announced that he was going to become a Bohemian and throw away his suits she took it in good part. They moved to Paris and acquired second and third homes in Spain and Austria, finally, in the 1980s, retiring to the South of France.

A prolific author, Anthony Glyn combined the qualities of humour and sadness. His 1969 novel The Dragon Variation won him fame in the chess world; equally appreciated were The Ram in the Thicket (1957) and The Terminal (1965). In 1985 he wrote The Companion Guide to Paris. In his enchanting guide The Seine, 19 years earlier, he mentions so many different cheeses that the reader of the book for the Oxford English Dictionary had to give up recording them all.

Glyn's interests ranged widely into mountaineering, skiing, and music. Once he composed a spoof account of the discovery of "Wagner's last opera", Der Nacht Morgen ("The Morning After"). Some people were taken in, by it and as a result the Musical Times asked him to review an entire Wagner season. He was also interested in making tapestries, and was a considerable linguist, being fluent in English, French, German and Spanish, with passable Italian, and a smattering of Russian.

Imagination was, for him, "truer than reality". He had studied Existentialism, but preferred Heidegger to Sartre, regretting Existentialism's descent into politics. He would remark, "Are you an authentic Dasein?" He himself was a "free spirit", though not in the bad sense of being amoral or regarding all conventional morality as unreasonably trammelling. Indeed he never gave up his religion and died listening to Mozart's Great Mass in C Minor.

He was buried at Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris, two weeks ago, considerably nearer to the chapel than Oscar Wilde.

- G. Chowdharay-Best

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
News
i100
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club that later became synonymous with Hillsborough has dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor