James Kennaway was a brilliant, talented writer, whose career spanned best-selling novels, block-busting screenplays and Oscar-winning movies. More than forty-odd years after his death, he remains one of Scotland’s most enigmatic and unacknowledged literary heroes.
Born in Aucherarder, Perth, in 1928, Kennaway first came to prominence with his 1956 novel ‘Tunes of Glory‘. An instant critical and popular success, it was made into a powerful film with Alec Guinness and John Mills in 1960.
In 1962, Kennaway adapted another of his novels for the superior psychological thriller ‘The Mindbenders‘, starring Dirk Bogarde (who was just at that cross-over point in his career, from “cheesecake” to serious actor), Mary Ure, and Wendy Craig. Later in the decade, another of Kennaway’s novel, ‘Household Ghosts’ about an incestuous relationship between brother and sister, received the big screen treatment starring Peter O’Toole and Susannah York in 1969.
Kennaway’s other books include ‘The Cost of Living Like This’, ‘Some Gorgeous Accident’ (the last published during his lifetime), and the filmic and beautiful novella, ‘Silence’.
Kennaway was an Oscar nominated screenwriter (‘Tunes of Glory‘) who also wrote the screenplays for ‘Violent Playground‘ starring Peter Cushing, David McCallum and Stanley Baker, as well as a successful adaptation of Morris West’s ‘The Shoes of the Fisherman’ and Len Deighton’s ‘The Battle of Britain‘, starring Michael Caine and Robert Shaw.
His short story ‘The Dollar Bottom’ was made into an Oscar-winning short film in 1981 with Rikki Fulton and Robert Urquhart.
Tragically, Kennaway was killed in a car crash in 1968, at the very moment he seemed destined for greater success.
A theatrical production of ‘Some Gorgeous Accident’ will be premiered at the Edinburgh Festival, this year.