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Julian Maclaren-Ross (7 July 1912 – 3 November 1964) was a British novelist.
He was born James McLaren Ross in
Maclaren-Ross was a frequent contributor to literary journals, such as
His reputation as a
In its review of the posthumously published Memoirs of the Forties, The Times on 23 September 1965, opined that MacLaren-Ross's army stories and Of Love and Hunger were 'small classics' but said that his writing had gone downhill in the Fifties. However, the paper considered his memoirs a return to form, saying, 'He wrote with economy and a formal elegance that marvellously suited his detached attitude to whatever in his surroundings seemed odd, ridiculous or wild; down it all went in curt graphic dialogue and deadpan description. There is nothing else that so conveys the atmosphere of bohemian and fringe-literary London under the impact of war and its immediate hangover. The book is comic, nostalgic and at times even moving, all without the least sense of strain.'
In his Times obituary on 6 November 1964 the paper said MacLaren-Ross 'was a dedicated and highly professional writer who never quite found the right vein for his talents.' It added that his short stories:
'took him into the wartime literary world, where he became a conspicuous figure in
Sohoand Fitzrovia, blossoming out after his demobilization as a tall, slightly theatrical-looking gentleman with a silver-knobbed stick. This appearance, and the formal manners that went with it, were somewhat misleading. His stories of Soho, though aimed at a less important target than their predecessors, were still ironic, often tightly compressed and usually very funny. At the same time he was starting to work as a script-writer in films, a subject which always passionately interested him. Then he turned his attention further back: first to his unhappy prewar period as a salesman, which became the subject of his one really serious novel Of Love and Hunger (1947) then to his childhood as son of a none too prosperous Scottish father, dividing his retirement between France and a melancholy-refined English seaside. The Weeping and the Laughter, the first volume of this autobiography, appeared in 1953 and only took him up to the age of 11; unfortunately it was never followed by others, and from then on he was driven to do a great deal too much occasional work to fulfil his very real potentialities. Unfortunately for him perhaps, he was an admirable contributor of occasional articles and parodies to Punch and a valued reviewer for The Times Literary Supplement, The Sunday Times, and, more recently, The London Magazine. He also did occasional film work and at least two thriller-serials for the Light Programmeof the B.B.C. But in spite of his interest in, and encyclopaedic knowledge of, the thrillerform in both novel and film his own incursions into the medium were never really successful, either in the artistic or in the commercial sense. His reviews made more demands on him; at least they showed his very wide literary knowledge and interests, which included much that was relentlessly highbrow in both French and English. It was only quite lately that his publisher managed to induce him to embark on Memoirs of the Forties, of which an admirably promising instalment appeared in The London Magazine for November. It was about half finished at the time of his death. For his best and profoundest book was Of Love and Hunger, which was recently republished as a paperback. It is a short, tragic work somewhat in the vein of Patrick Hamilton, but deserves to live in its own right. The army stories were collected in The Stuff to Give the Troops (1944): they are minor historic documents as well as very funny stories. Apart from the autobiography none of his seven other books comes up to this level, but anything he wrote has a certain distinction. His manuscripts were unforgettable, tiny neat writing with a slight slope and the odd baroque decoration, written perhaps in the Mandrake Club or in a pub. Ironic, self-controlled, slightly stilted, yet giving nothing away, they were very like the man himself.'