Hallam M. Tennyson

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Biographical Information

Hallam M. Tennyson died in 2006. "Educated at Eton, Hallam passed his entrance exam for Oxford at the age of 16 with an essay on Gainsborough. However, the start of the second world war aborted his studies, and Hallam, a conscientious objector, went to Egypt and Italy with the Friends Ambulance Service; his two older brothers, Penrose and Julian, joined the armed forces and were both killed in their early 20s, leaving Hallam with a deep sense of loss.

"After the war, rejecting what he regarded as a privileged upbringing, Hallam went to live in London's East End, a committed socialist, and for a limited time, a member of the Communist party. It was there that he met and fell in love with Margot Wallach, a young, handsome Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. They were married in 1946.

"Utopian in outlook, they now chose to work for two years in west Bengal, India, helping to sink wells and build self-reliant communities. During this time they got to know Mahatma Gandhi well, spending several months living in his ashram. The work and philosophy of Gandhi had a deep and enduring influence on both Hallam and Margot...

"In 1953, Hallam and Margot moved to Hertfordshire with his friend from Eton days, Peter Benenson (founder of Amnesty International), his wife Margaret, and their children, all sharing a large farmhouse. This now extended family was able to provide practical support during Margot's regular periods of depression and mental illness.

"Hallam joined the BBC World Service in 1956, later moving into BBC radio drama, where he achieved a very distinguished career as assistant head of drama to Martin Esslin during those golden years of radio. Throughout his time with the BBC, he adapted many classics; scripted programmes on Verdi, Mozart, Gerard Manley Hopkins and so on; and produced works by Shakespeare, Stoppard, Beckett and Pinter...

"In 1971, after years of devoted care of Margot, and when his children Ros and Jonny were 21 and 16 respectively, Hallam decided he could no longer deny his homosexuality. He became a champion of gay rights, campaigned on behalf of gays in prison and worked for the Terrence Higgins Trust. In 1984, he wrote his autobiography, the Haunted Mind, an exploration of his complex personality and sexual nature. This caused a considerable stir when serialised in a Sunday paper." [1]


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  1. guardian Hallam M. Tennyson, organizational web page, accessed June 1, 2013.