Joseph Hone

LifeWorksCriticismCommentaryQuotationsReferencesNotes

Life
1937- ; b. 25 Feb, London; son of Nat Hone and his wife Biddy, who met when the former was a TB patient and the latter a trainee nurse; handed over for care by his parents; to Joseph [J. M.] Hone Snr., his grandfather then living in Co. Kilkenny; placed by him in fosterage with Hubert Butler and his wife Peggy at Maidenhall, Kilkenny; ed. at Kilkenny College and Sandford Park School, Dublin, as a boarder (‘hellish’) and afterwars at St. Columba’s College in Dublin; trained and employed at BBC, with postings to New York and the United Nations at New York, 1967-68; BBC Office of Public Information; later also incl. TV critic for The Listener, 1971-1980;
 
became a successful novelist, broadcaster, travel writer and academic; issued a number of spy novels featuring Peter Marlow, incl. The Private Sector (1971), set in the Arab-Israeli Six Day War and others such as The Sixth Directorate (1975), The Flowers of the Forest (1980) and The Valley of the Fox (1982); holds a post in Creative Writing at Wroxton College of the Farleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey; 2001; m. Jackie, with whom two children; lives in Oxfordshire.; issued Wicked Little Joe (2009), the memoir of a troubled Anglo-Irish childhood.

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Works
Fiction
  • The Private Sector (London: Hamish Hamilton 1971; NY: E. P. Dutton 1972; London: Coronet 1975), 370pp.
  • The Sixth Directorate (London: Secker & Warburgh 1975; Coronet 1977), 337pp.;
  • The Paris Trap (London: Secker & Warburg 1977), 254pp.;
  • The Valley of the Fox (London: Hamish Hamilton 1982; Hamlyn Pb. 1984), 309pp.;
  • Firesong: A Novel of Russia (London: Sinclair-Stevenson 1997), 693pp. [upper-class Russia];
  • The Flowers of the Forest (London: Secker & Warburg 1980; Hamlyn Pbs. 1983), 364pp.
    Summer Hill: A Novel (London: Sinclair Stevenson 1990, Pan 1992), 943pp.;
  • Return to Summer Hill (London: Pan 1990), 738pp. [rep. of Bks. 4 & 5 of Summer Hill, 1990];
Autobiography
  • Wicked Little Joe: A Tale of Childhood and Youth (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2009)
Travel & Commentary
  • The Dancing Waiters: Some Collected Travels, introduced by James Cameron (London: Hamilton 1975), xxiii, 195pp.;
  • Gone Tomorrow: Some More Collected Travels (London: Secker & Warburg 1981), 144pp.;
  • Children of the Country: Coast to Coast Across Africa (London: Hamilton 1986), 256pp.;
  • Duck Soup in the Black Sea: Further Collected Writings (London: Hamilton 1988), xii, 240pp.;

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Miscellaneous
  • Irish Ghost Stories, specially written by Robert Benson [et al.], ed. Joseph Hone (London: Hamish Hamilton 1977, Grafton Books 1990),169pp.;
  • Afterword to Gerald Hanley, Warriors: Life and Death among the Somalis [Warriors and Strangers] (London: Eland 1993), 179pp., ill. [map, ports.]

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Commentary
Spyfan review of novels of Hone [Commander Bond website] ‘We first meet Marlow in The Private Sector (1975), when he is a teacher in Egypt who gradually gets involved in a spy ring. Marlow starts believing in some kind of rules; most - but not all - are broken. This is one of those ‘innocents in too deep’ stories, like The Man Who Knew Too Much, or The 39 Steps. Its most obvious model, however, is Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandra Quartet: both the setting and the protagonists are similar. Hone alternates between third and first persons, which he makes look like the easiest thing in the world. This novel is about the run-up to the Six Day War, about Soviet moles, about how one can never know anyone else. It’s quite extraordinary. [...]’ (See full text, attached.]

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Carlo Gèbler, review of Wicked Little Joe in The Irish Times (12 Sept. 2009), gives details of Hone's upbringing: the son of Nat Hone and his wife Mary [recte Biddy]; handed over to “old” Joe [J. M.] Hone, the biographer of Yeats, et al., and fostered out as paying guest to Hubert Butler and his wife Peggy at their homes in Annaghmakkerig (Guthrie) and Maidenhall (Butler) up to the point when the actual parents refused to consider adoption; ed. in Maidenhall. An unillusioned account of the relationship is given in Joe Hone's autobiography Wicked Little Joe: A Tale of Childhood and Youth (2009), based on letters included in the correspondence that Hubert Butler lodged with the Trinity College Library. (See further details under Hubert Butler, q.v.)

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[Shirley Kelly,] Books Ireland (Sept. 2009): Hone was alerted by Bernard Meehan, TCD Library Archivist to the existence of a correspondence between his Hubert Butler, his grandfather [J. M. Hone], and his parents as well as others including Tyrone Guthrie, Pamela Travers (creator of Mary Poppins), cousins, friends, headmasters, housemasters, a psychiatrist; Hone's’ many siblings were variously minded - one by Pamela Travers (of Mary Poppins fame) in Chelsea, two by Biddy's family in Piltown, Co. Kilkenny, and two at a baby farm under the charge of a 19-yr-old single mother, where one (a twin) died at 18 months. (pp.166-67.)

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