Maurice Collis

Life
1889-1973 [Maurice Stewart Collis; b. Dublin; son of a solicitor and elder br. of J. S. and Robert Collis; ed. Rugby College & Oxford (grad. history); entered Indian Civil Service, 1911; worked in Burma, at Sagaing, Arakan (Dist. Off., in the 1920s); soldiered in Palestine with the Burmese Brigade during WWI, and afterwards travelled in Europe; appt. Dist. Mag. in Rangoon, 1929-30; gave judgement adverse to British community in trials of 1930 incurring the displeasure of Booth Gravely (Commissioner of Pegu Div.); promptly moved to Excise Commissioner; later issued Trials in Burma (1938), recounting those experiences; settled in England, 1934; his biographies include Siamese Twin (1934), on Samuel White, traveller; and Somerville and Ross (1968); also Cortes and Montezuma (1954), a successful work;

his novels incl. She was A Queen (hist. Fiction) and Mystery of the Dead Lovers; also Raffles (1966), on Stamford Raffles, founder of the Singapore Club; his novel She was a Queen (1939), based on  Queen Pwa Saw [var. Ma Saw] of the Pagan Dynasty of Burma [Myanmar], was banned by the dictatorship for supposed resemblances to Aung San Suu Kyi and unbanned in 2005; Collis was a professed Irish nationalist; wrote on Stanley Spencer and L. S. Lowry; also wrote exhibition notes for several others incl. Mervyn Peake who illustrated his novel Quest for Sita (1946), when Peake was showing at the victor Waddington Gallery in Dublin in 1951. NCBE DIW KUN

[ top ]

Works
Fiction
  • She Was a Queen (AVA Publishing 1939), 301pp. [life of Ma Saw].
  • Sanda Mala (London: 1939).
  • The Mystery of Dead Lovers (London: Faber & Faber 1951), 160pp., ill. [drawings by Cawthra Mulock].
  • Quest for Sita (London: Faber & Faber 1946), 162pp. ill. [drawings by Mervyn Peake; of Ravana, the dark angel and his paradise at Lanka; of Hanuman and the divine vultures Jatayus and Sampati.) [Based on the Ramayana of Valmiki.
  • The Dark Door.
Drama
  • Motherly and auspicious, being the life of the Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi in the form of a drama, with an introduction and notes (London: Faber & Faber 1943), 179pp.
  • Danse Macabre (London 1922). .
  • White of Mergen: A dramatic composition (London 1945) [in three acts].
  • Lord of the Three Worlds (London: Faber & Faber 1947), 107pp., ill. [designs for the stage by Feliks Topolski].
Biographies
  • Siamese White (London: Faber & Faber 1934; rep. 1951), 317pp.
  • The Grand Peregrination; Being the Life and Adventures of Fernão Mendes Pinto (London: , Faber & Faber 1949).
  • Discovery of L. S. Lowery: A Critical and Biographical Essay ([London:] Lund, Humphries for Alex Reid & Lefevre 1951) 27pp.
  • Cortés and Montezuma (1954), another edn. (NY: New Directions 1999), 251pp.
  • Marco Polo (London: [Faber] 1950, 1959), 190pp.; Do. [another edn.] (NY: New Directions 1961), 190pp.
  • Stanley Spencer: A Biography (London: Harvill Press 1962), 255pp.
  • Raffles (London: Faber & Faber 1966), 227pp.; Do. rep. edn., with an introduction by Jan Morris (London: Century 1988).
  • Nancy Astor: An Informal Biography (London: Futura [1960], 1982), 254pp.
  • Somerville and Ross: A Biography (London: Faber & Faber 1968).
Social & historical studies
  • Trials in Burma (London: Faber & Faber 1945), 225pp; Do., rep. edn., with an introduction by Louise Collis (Bangkok: Ava Pub. House [1996]), 224pp.
  • Lords of the Sun: A Tour of Shan State (London: Dodd, Mead 1938), 326pp.
  • The Great Within [Books for Libraries] (London: Faber & Faber 1941), 349pp.
  • British Merchant Adventurers (London: W. Collins 1942), 60pp. .
  • The Burmese Scene: Political, Historical, Pictorial (London: J. Crowther, 1943 [1944]), 60pp.
  • The Land of the Great Image: Being Experiences of Friar Manrique in Arakan (London: Faber & Faber 1943; NY: Alfred A. Knopf 1943); trans. as Na terra da Grande Imagem (Porto: Livraria Civilizaçã 1944); another edn. (1985), 317pp.
  • The First Holy One (Faber & Faber, London, 1948).
  • Wayfoong: The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation; a Study of East Asia's Transformation, Political, Financial, and Economic, During the Last Hundred Years (London: Faber & Faber 1965), 269pp.
  • Foreign Mud: Being an Account of the Opium Imbroglio at Canton in the 1830s and the Anglo-Chinese War That Followed (London: Faber 1946), 318pp.), Do. [rep. edn.] (1997), 285pp.
  • Last and First in Burma (London: Faber & Faber 1954).
  • The Hurling Time (London: Faber & Faber 1958), 323pp. [forty turbulent years in the 14th century, English victories in France, the Peasants Revolt, the Black Prince and Wat Tyler].
Autobiography & Diaries
  • The Journey Outward. An Autobiography (London [Faber] 1952), qpp., ill. [portrait & maps].
  • Into Hidden Burma (LondonL Faber & Faber 1953), 268pp.
Diaries
  • Louise Collis, ed., Maurice Collis Diaries, 1949-1969 (London: Heinemann 1976), vii, 216pp., ill. [4 lvs. of pls.: ill.; 25 cm.; actually 1976 - COPAC].
Miscellaneous
  • Alva: Recent paintings and drawings ... Introduction by Maurice Collis (London: Bodley Head 1951), 20 pls [fol.; on Siegfried Alva].

[ top ]

References
Bernard Share, ed., Far Green Fields: 1500 Years of Irish Travel Writing (Belfast: Blackstaff 1992), gives an extract of Into Hidden Burma (Faber 1953), viz., The Astrologer, on his relation to deposed native princess: ‘This astonished everyone in court [and] immensely pleased the population ... Kings, queens, princesses, really no longer, ha[d] become ghosts of a former glory. But here was a real magistrate treating a live princess with special consideration. It made the British seem less cold.’

[ top ]