Clennell Wilkinson

Clennell (Anstruther) Wilkinson was born into a prosperous family in Middlesbrough; his father was a solicitor in Durham, and he and his brother Cyril both went to private schools – Clennell, born in 1883, was the eldest of three (he had a sister, Beryl). He seems at the outset to have been a teacher in Bury St. Edmunds at the school which he had been a pupil. He married late, and seems to have gradually transferred his focus from teaching to writing (he wrote articles or reviews for J.C. Squire’s London Mercury, as well as the Saturday Review). Wilkinson was also briefly literary editor  of New Statesman – he was an ‘old drinking friend’ of Clifford Sharp, and – after a spell in South Africa – returned to be given the job, in which by all accounts, he was a disaster.

At the time The Week-end Review began, he had begun to publish, in rapid succession, a series of accessible historical biographies, for instance of Dampier and Napier, but most successfully, of Bonnie Prince Charlie, about whom there was a surge of interest at the outset of the 1930s. A little older than his colleagues on The Week-end Review, he seems to have been a writer keen to make history accessible as well as accurate. He died in 1936, only two years after the magazine folded.

There is a ship’s manifest that shows him returning from Barbados with his wife, and to me, her name looks like Kathleen Mona Wilkinson:

C Wilkinson manifest

If that’s the case, she is perhaps the Mona Wilkinson who contributes a poem to The Week-end Review, and who wrote a book called The Crystal under the pseudonym Caroline Kennedy in 1933.

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2 thoughts on “Clennell Wilkinson

  1. He was NOT the son of a Durham solicitor nor did he have a brother called Cyril or a sister called Beryl. He was actually the son of the Rev. Anthony Anstruther Wilkinson, the Rector of Icklingham in Suffolk., But he was indeed born in Middlesbrough.- and his mother, Harriet, was the sister of E.W. Hornung. He had two brothers (Clarence and Fitzgerald) and two sisters (Eileen and Norah). In the 1891 census return, presumably because somebody was hard of hearing, he was listed as ‘Clement’. His sister Eileen married J.C. Squire, which is how he became involved with the ‘London Mercury’..

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