Turned Towards The Sun by Michael Burn - review by Francis King

Francis King

Mussel Man

Turned Towards The Sun


Michael Russell 320pp £20 order from our bookshop

BORN IN 1912, the author of this autobiography has had not merely a long and adventurous life but also, as he repeatedly makes clear, a remarkably enjoyable one. Even Coldrtz, where he was incarcerated after he was taken prisoner during the St-Nazaire raid, failed to oppress him. This ability to transcend the most unpromising situations, whether circumstantial or emotional, was due, one suspects, in part to natural high spirits and in part to a refusal to subject either his own feelings or those of others to excessive scrutiny. Because of that refusal, and despite being an excellent journalist and biographer and a poet sadly underrated today, he never quite had the equipment to make it as a novelist.

Born into an upper-middle-class family in which demonstrations of emotion were sternly repressed, Burn progressed from Winchester to Oxford on a classical scholarship. While there, he ghost-wrote the autobiography of the motoring ace Tim Birkin, and followed this with a history of Brooklands. After that, he decided to quit the

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