The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey
First edition, first printing. Hardback in dustwrapper. 25 × 17.5cm, 296pp.
An extensively researched and compelling biography of Carry On stalwart Charles Hawtrey, almost fifteen years in the making, featuring scores of exclusive interviews, including Hawtrey's inner circle and surviving descendents, never-before-seen photographs, and private documents and correspondence. The result is the first definitive account of a life Hawtrey himself was keen to see evaporate into the mist of history. Years before, Hawtrey started out as a child actor in silent films, he was England's leading boy soprano and worked alongside a positive who's who of the thirties and forties. He had directed films and produced West End shows, starred in three hit TV series and was a prolific radio actor for the BBC.
Yet he was never content and spent his life desperately searching for stardom and success, which, in his own deluded way of thinking, always failed to live up to expectations. Like the character we see on the screen, Hawtrey never grew up. Egged on by his mentally-ill mother, he disowned the rest of his family, embarrassed by a background that included workhouses and illegitimacy. Instead, he declared himself the son of Sir Charles Hawtrey, an illustrious theatrical actor and Noel Coward's mentor.
By the time the Carry Ons got going, Hawtrey was well and truly typecast as a 'funny fella with glasses' and his bid to be taken seriously was over. He wasn't the least bit interested in his reputation or leaving a legacy, growing old disgracefully in Deal, the Kent seaside town he lived in for the last twenty years of his life: collapsing in pubs; swearing at autograph-hunting children; and, taking home teenage rent boys (one of whom set fire to Hawtrey's cottage, with Hawtrey still inside it). In 1988, doctors gave him a life or death choice to amputate both his legs. Hawtrey refused, believing a transplant of pig's veins would save him, but he died a month later.
The book is in very good condition, the dustwrapper has some light surface abrasion but is also very good.
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