Peter Vansittart's picture

Peter Vansittart


Mr. Vansittart was born in Bedford, in south-central England. He attended Haileybury school in Hertfordshire and Winchester College before winning a scholarship to Worcester College, Oxford, where he remained for only a year. His first novel, I Am the World, about the rise and fall of a dictator, was published in 1942. One critic pronounced it the worst book ever published, a judgment that Mr. Vansittart managed to shrug off as he embarked on a writing career that would produce about 50 novels and dozens of other works.From 1947 to 1959, Mr. Vansittart was director of the Burgess Hill school in Hampstead, London, a progressive, coeducational establishment, which provided the material for a comic novel, Broken Canes (1950). While there, he married Jacqueline Goldsmith, a teacher. The marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by his companion, Justine Woodward of Old Windsor.A walk on the grounds of a derelict mansion gave him the setting for his first great critical success, The Game and the Ground (1956), about a group of children brutalized by the World War II and on the verge of being rehabilitated when the narrators brother, an unrepentant Nazi, appears on the scene. As a parable of savagery versus civilization, it drew comparisons to William Goldings Lord of the Flies.