James Kennaway (1928-68), was born in Auchterarder, Perthshire, where he came from a quiet middle-class background and went to public school at Trinity College, Glenalmond. When he was called to National Service in 1946 he joined the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders and served with the Gordon Highlanders on the Rhine. Two years later he went to Trinity College, Oxford, where he took a degree in economics and politics before renewing his ambition as a writer and working for a publisher in London. Kennaway married his wife Susan in 1951, and something of their turbulent relationship and his own wild, charming, hard-drinking and intense personality can be found in The Kennaway Papers (1981), a book put together by Susan after his death.
Tunes of Glory (1956) was Kennaway’s first novel. It remains his best-known work, and the author himself wrote the screenplay for what was to become a hugely successful film in 1960. His next book, Household Ghosts (1961), was equally powerful. Set in Scotland as a tale of family tension and emotional strife, it was adapted for the stage and then filmed - again to the author’s own screenplay - as Country Dance (1969).
At the age of only 40, James Kennaway suffered a massive heart attack and died in a car crash just before Christmas in 1968. His last work, the novella Silence, was published posthumously in 1972.