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Francis Brett Young was born in 1884 at Hales Owen, Worcestershire, the eldest son of Dr Thomas Brett Young.

Educated at Iona Cottage High School, Sutton Coldfield and Epsom College, Francis read Medicine at Birmingham University before entering general practice at Brixham in 1907. The following year he married Jessie Hankinson whom he had met during his medical studies. She was a singer of some repute, having appeared as a soloist in Henry Wood's Promenade Concerts.

Francis based one of his earliest novels Deep Sea (1914) in Brixham but was soon to be caught up in the Great War. He served in the R.A.M.C. in East Africa, experiences recorded in Marching on Tanga.

After the war Francis and Jessie went to live in Capri where a number of novels with African as well as English backgrounds were produced. Popular success came in 1927 when Francis was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Portrait of Clare.

The Brett Youngs returned to England in 1929, staying for a while in the Lake District before settling at Craycombe House in Worcestershire in 1932. During this period Francis was at the height of his fame and his annually produced novels were eagerly awaited.

During the Second World War Francis laboured on his long poem covering the spread of English history from prehistoric times. Entitled The Island, it was published in 1944 and regarded by Francis as his greatest achievement.

Following a breakdown in his health Francis and Jessie moved to South Africa where he died in 1954. His ashes were brought back to this country and interred in Worcester Cathedral.

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09.09.2014

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