The Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton
A brilliant new biography by the acclaimed author of CHERRY and TERRA INCOGNITA.
Conservationist, scholar, soldier, white hunter and fabled lover – Denys Finch Hatton was an aristocrat of leonine nonchalance. After a dazzling career at Eton and Oxford, he sailed in 1910 for British East Africa. There he first had an affair with the glamorous aviatrix Beryl Markham, and then – famously – with Karen Blixen, a romance immortalised in her memoir Out of Africa. 'No one who ever met him,’ his Times obituary concluded, ‘whether man or woman, old or young, white or black, failed to come under his spell.’
TOO CLOSE TO THE SUN is a story of big guns and small planes, princes from England and sultans from Zanzibar, marauding lions, syphilis, self-destruction and the tragedy of the human heart. Sara Wheeler tracks her quarry from a dreamlike Edwardian childhood in a Lincolnshire mansion through to the battlefields of the East African campaign – one of the last remaining untold stories of the First World War. An elusive hero in the mythic story of the British settlers in East Africa, Finch Hatton was the open road made flesh, and Wheeler uses his biography to illuminate a generation.
“A good story... a fitting memorial”
“A fascinating story of a man trying to outrun the social upheavals of the twentieth century”
“Wheeler has made excellent use of the sources at hand... Moreover, Wheeler writes well, and has a gift - shared by only very few - for pinning down the smells and atmosphere of the African landscape”
“She dazzles the reader with an evocation of time and place.. her description of the east Africa Campaign is detailed and enthralling”
Keith Dovkants, Scotsman
“She writes beautifully, with a vivid turn of phrase, a sound grasp of history and an impish humour”
Andrew Lycett, Sunday Times
“A richly, indeed sensually atmospheric book... Wheeler writes in headily evocative style”
“An engrossing book”
Hilary Spurling, Daily Telegraph
“Wheeler has a sharp eye for lustrous detail, and her comic touch is sure”
Henry Hitchens, Times Literary Supplement