[ilds] Durrell fell foul of migrant law

Charles Sligh slighcl at wfu.edu
Fri Jun 1 07:24:29 PDT 2007

Here is the source of the story as I saw it way back when.  I will look forward
to hearing more.



Durrell fell foul of migrant law
John Ezard
Monday April 29, 2002


Lawrence Durrell - one of the best selling, most celebrated English novelists of
the late 20th century - was refused British citizenship at the height of his
fame, it emerged yesterday.
Durrell, author of the Alexandria Quartet, found himself caught in 1966 by a
parliamentary act introduced with the covert aim of reducing immigration to
Britain from India, Pakistan and the West Indies.

In a move which alarmed and angered diplomats because of its threatened
repercussions for the country's image, the writer, who held a British passport,
was forced to apply for entry permits every time he wanted to visit his

Papers just released by the public record office show that Sir Patrick Reilly,
the ambassador in Paris, was so incensed that he wrote to his Foreign Office
superiors: "I venture to suggest it might be wise to ensure that ministers,
both in the Foreign Office and the Home Office, are aware that one of our
greatest living writers in the English language is being debarred from the
citizenship of the United Kingdom to which he is entitled.

"It would surely make a very curious impression if it became generally known
that he is not accepted as a citizen of the UK and that his passport carries an
endorsement which suggests that there is something filthy about him.

"I wonder if it is conceivable that any country in the world could allow such a
thing to happen to a writer of worldwide reputation. Suppose one day he gets a
Nobel prize and this story comes out. What sort of fools will we look?"

Durrell - himself a former diplomat - was born in India to an English father and
Anglo-Irish mother. From 1939-1945 he worked for embassies in the Mediterranean
and for the British Council. By 1966 he had lived at Nimes, southern France,
for eight years.

At his peak The Alexandria Quartet led him to be praised in the US as a literary
giant. He was paid $2,500 a week, now worth $15,000, as a Hollywood script

But he had not been notified that he needed to register as a British citizen
under the 1962 Commonwealth Immigration Act, introduced by Harold Macmillan's
Conservative government. He was told the Labour home secretary in 1966, Roy
(now Lord) Jenkins, had no power to override his exclusion.

Durrell was a lifelong satirist of British bureaucracy and sexual puritanism.
Untypically, he decided not to embarrass the government and obediently applied
for entry visas whenever he visited Britain.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

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