|Anthony Walter Patrick Hamilton was born on St. Patrick's Day in 1904 at Hassocks,
England. Patrick was the last of three children-Helen (known as Lalla to the family
Diana to her friends in the theater), Bruce, and Patrick-born to Bernard and Ellen
Hockley Hamilton. Although Bernard, Patrick's father, had inherited a considerable
money at age twenty-one, by the time Patrick was born very little of the inheritance
remained, forcing Patrick to spend the latter years of his youth in a variety of
middle-class boarding houses and rented rooms. His experiences and memories from these
rented quarters helped to shape the characters, described in the September 1951 Times Literary Supplement as "the
faithless, the uprooted, the lonely souls," in his early fictional work.
|Patrick Hamilton's earliest published piece, a poem titled "Heaven," appeared in the respected journal Poetry Review in 1919. His first novel Monday Morning was published by Constable six years later in 1925.
Michael Sadleir, a book collector and noted Victorianist, had accepted the novel for
Constable and it was during the publishing of Monday Morning that the two men began a career-long friendship.
Hamilton's most famous work Rope, originally presented on
stage in 1929, enjoyed success as a theater and radio production and eventually as
Hitchcock film. Rope's success brought critical acclaim and monetary
compensation to Hamilton for the rest of his life.
|The 1930s were a tumultuous time for Patrick and the Hamilton family. In August 1930
Patrick secretly married Lois Martin just days after his father's death. Lois seemed
a good effect on Patrick. She took over his finances, suggested a move to the countryside,
and limited (and eventually temporarily banned) his consumption of alcohol during
composition of The Siege of Pleasure in 1931. Despite his newfound
responsibility, tragedy struck in 1932. While walking with his sister and wife in
Hamilton was struck by a drunk driver and dragged through the street. His injuries
devastating. After a three-month hospital stay, multiple surgeries, and a period of
convalescence, Hamilton suffered physical and emotional scars that would continue
for the rest of his life. His accident appeared in his work after he added a drunken
accident into the Siege of Pleasure before its late 1932 publication.
Two years later in 1934 Hamilton's mother committed suicide in response to a devastating
illness. During this difficult period, Hamilton focused his creative energies to write
The Plains of Cement(1934), the third novel in a trilogy about a pub
called the Midnight Bell and the characters that frequented it. In 1935, Constable
the trilogy under the title Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky: A
London Trilogy. Noted author J. B. Priestley wrote a preface for the book
signaling Hamilton's growing literary fame.
|In 1933, Hamilton began to study Marxism, possibly stemming from his brother Bruce's
letters during a trip to the Soviet Union, or his reading of Karl Marx and Lenin.
interest in Marxism and his compassion for the "semi-proletariat," his term for people living life on the margins, explain his
humanistic tendency to tell stories of the poor and underrepresented.
|After 1937, Hamilton enjoyed a productive few years publishing a range of successful
critically acclaimed novels and plays including Impromptu in Moribundia (1939), Money with Menaces (1939), To the Public Danger (1939), Hangover Square (1941), The Duke in Darkness (1943), and The Slaves of Solitude (1947). Additionally, in 1947 Hamilton
advised Alfred Hitchcock on the production of the film version of Rope; however, the relationship soured due to Hamilton's perceived
lack of influence over the film and was eventually so displeased with the final result
he went on an alcoholic binge resulting in a brief stay at a nursing home to recover.
|Although Hamilton was succeeding professionally, personally his life was becoming
chaotic. Sometime during 1948-1949 Hamilton began an extra-martial affair with Ursula
Stewart, born Lady Ursula Chetwynd-Talbot, an author who published under the name
Talbot. For years Hamilton would live with "La," as her
friends called her, during the week and return to his wife Lois on the weekend. Even
Hamilton's divorce from Lois in 1953 and his marriage to La in 1954, this triangular
affair continued until Hamilton's death. Despite his tumultuous private life, Hamilton
able to write three novels about the sociopath and criminal Ralph Ernest Gorse, The West Pier (1951), Mr. Stimpson and Mr. Gorse (1953), and Unknown Assailant (1954). The Gorse novels were moderately
successful and were made into a television mini-series in the 1990s. His final play
The Man Upstairs (1953) was not critically acclaimed and although it
was published as a book in 1954, the play never made it to the West End in London.
|The final years of Hamilton's life were unproductive and difficult. In times of sobriety,
Hamilton worked on two novels "The Happy Hunting Grounds"
and "Memoirs of a Heavy Drinking Man," but neither
were completed or published. Hamilton's alcoholism and dysfunctional private life
lead to a bout of depression. On the advice of La's former husband, Hamilton underwent
electroshock therapy, but to no avail. Still plagued by alcoholism, Hamilton died