OBITUARY:Ernest Borneman

Ernest Borneman had an extraordinarily varied career, which spanned the study of jazz and other forms of music, the cinema, literary criticism and aesthetics, children's sexuality and prehistoric society. He was the author of a great number of books in his native German, as well as in English, among these latter being an appreciation of jazz, a thriller and three novels.

My knowledge of Ernest Borneman goes back to my childhood in the 1930s, when we lived in adjacent houses in Heathcote Street, a cul-de-sac off the Gray's Inn Road. I spent the first five years of my life here from 1932, while Ernest, a refugee from Hitler's Nazi Germany while still at school, was attending the School of African and Oriental Studies at London University. It was during this period that he wrote a thriller set in a film studio, The Face on the Cutting Room Floor.

Written under the pseudonym Cameron McCabe, it was published in 1937 by Victor Gollancz, who had accepted the typescript in person from Borneman when he turned up unbidden at his office in Henrietta Street. The book was given a mixed reception on publication, even getting a notice in Night and Day from Sir Herbert Read: "This thriller is cunningly constructed on the formula of the Hegelian triad - thesis, antithesis, synthesis . . ."

In 1940, Borneman was rounded up as an enemy alien, taken to a camp at Huyton, near Liverpool, and then to internment in Canada aboard the Ettrick (the preceding ship in the convoy, the Andora Star, being sunk en route). Here he was confined for over a year before being released to work under John Grierson for Canada's National Film Board. While in Canada he became a British subject and married Eva Geisal, who bore him a son.

After the war he went to Paris to work for the film section of Unesco, where he met Orson Welles, who asked him to work for him on a film of the Odyssey.

He returned to live in England for a number of years and was then invited back to Germany by the Federal Government in 1960 to build up and take charge of the Federal television network. This was wound up the following year when the German Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Government had no right to start a television network.

He then took up residence in Austria, turning his energies into various research projects on the borderland between anthropology, psychoanalysis and sexology, leading to teaching posts in universities at Salzburg in Austria and Marburg in Germany.

His numerous publications in this area include Lexikon der Liebe (1968), Enzyklopadie von der Sexualitat (1970) and Sexuallexicon (1984).

Late last year, I received a letter from Dr Sigrid Standow asking me if I would like to make a contribution to a festschrift she was collecting to celebrate Borneman's 80th birthday on 12 April. I sent off a poem I had written about my childhood memories of Heathcote Street. In April I duly received a copy of Ein Luderlichtes Leben ("A Wayward Life"). On the cover of this is a photograph of Dr Standow, naked, posing before the besuited figure of Borneman - I understand from his last letters to me that it was the emotional parting of the two of them that contributed to his decision to take his own life.

Martin Green

Ernest Borneman, writer and sexologist: born Berlin 14 April 1915; married 1947 Eva Geisal (died 1987; one son); died Scharten, Austria 4 June 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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 People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power