University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3PA
Sir Peter Courtney Quennell CBE (9 March 1905 – 27 October 1993) was an English biographer, literary historian, editor, essayist, poet, and critic. He wrote extensively on social history.
Born in Bickley, Kent, the son of architect C. H. B. Quennell and Marjorie Quennell, he was educated at Berkhamsted Grammar School and at Balliol College, Oxford. While still at school some of his poems were selected by Richard Hughes for the anthology Public School Verse, which brought him to the attention of writers such as Edith Sitwell. In 1922 he published his first book, Masques and Poems. This was followed by many other volumes, particularly his Four Portraits of 1945 (studies of Boswell, Gibbon, Sterne, and Wilkes), books on London and works on Baudelaire (1929), Byron (1934–35), Pope (1949), Ruskin (1949), Hogarth (1955), Shakespeare (1963), Proust (1971) and Samuel Johnson (1972). He first practised journalism in London. In 1930 he taught at the University of Tokyo. In 1944–51, he was editor of The Cornhill Magazine and from 1951 to 1979 founder-editor of History Today. Quennell published two volumes of autobiography, The Marble Foot (1976) and Wanton Chase (1980). He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and was knighted in the 1992 New Year Honours. He married five times, and had two children, a daughter Sarah from his third marriage and Alexander from his fifth. He died in London. Quennell's first cousin – daughter of his father's brother Walter – was Joan Quennell, a Conservative MP.
Quennell (left) with James Stephens in 1929
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