Kingsley Amis was born in Clapham, South London, England on April 16 1922, and after attending Oxford University, served in the Royal Signals Corps of British Army for 3 years during World War II. He became a lecturer in English at Swansea University in 1949, a career he continued until the early 1960s, when he began writing full-time.
The author 2 dozen novels and 6 volumes of poetry, he made his reputation with the publication in 1954 of Lucky Jim, which earned him popular success and enduring fame. It is the story of a lower-middle class English lecturer at a provincial British university, not unlike Amis himself at that time. The novel strongly influenced a group of British novelists and playwrights who became known as the "Angry Young Men" for their scorn of British society after World War II. Amis rejected the label as "a very boring journalistic phrase."
In 1965, Amis wrote 2 books: the literary critique The James Bond Dossier and The Book of Bond, or Every Man His Own 007 (under the pseudonym of Bill Tanner), a sort of "how-to" guide. It has also been rumored that Amis wrote part of Ian Fleming's last book, The Man with the Golden Gun.
In 1968, under the psuedonym Robert Markham, Amis wrote Colonel Sun, the first James Bond novel published after the death of Ian Fleming. Since Amis knew Fleming's work well, he was contracted by Glidrose, the copyright-holders of Fleming's books, to continue the story of 007. This was despite opposition from Fleming's widow, Ann, who disliked Amis and considered him a "left-wing opportunist" [Lycett, p. 445]. The idea was that other writers would continue the Bond canon, all writing under the same psuedonym, but this was not to happen.
In 1986, he won Britain's top award for literature, the Booker Prize for his novel, The Old Devils, which was later adapted for the stage. He was awarded a knighthood in 1990. His son, Martin Amis, is also a famous novelist.
He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1990.
Amis died on October 22, 1995 at the age of 73, from injuries received in a fall. "He will be much missed and he will be remembered as a curmudgeonly figure. There is nobody like him left from that generation," said fellow writer Auberon Waugh. "He did not give a damn what other people thought about him, and he said what he thought."
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