C. P. Snow (1905 – 1980)

descarga (3)Charles Percy Snow, Baron Snow, CBE (15 October 1905 – 1 July 1980) was a scientist and novelist. Born in Leicester, he was educated at University College, Leicester and Cambridge University, where he became a Fellow of Christ’s College. He was knighted in 1957 and made a life peer as Baron Snow, of the City of Leicester, in 1964. He served as a Minister in the Labour government of Harold Wilson. C.P. Snow was married to novelist Pamela Hansford Johnson.

Snow is most noted for his lectures and books regarding his concept of “The Two Cultures”, as developed in The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (1959). Here he notes that the breakdown of communication between the sciences and the humanities is a major hindrance to solving the world’s problems. Snow’s lecture aroused considerable ferment at the time of its delivery, partly because of the uncompromising style in which he stated his case. He was strongly criticised by the literary critic F. R. Leavis. The dispute even inspired a comic song on the subject of the second law of thermodynamics from Flanders & Swann.

Snow’s first detective story was Death under Sail (1932). Late in his career, he wrote a second detective novel, A Coat of Varnish (1978). Perhaps he had used the detective novel to practice his writing skills at the start of his career, and a sense of symmetry made him try it again at the close. (Source: Wikipedia and Golden Age of Detention Wiki).

Martin Edwards has included Death under Sail in The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books and reminds us that quote On the dust-jacket copy of the first edition, en excited blurb writer claimed that: ‘Few detectives stories have ever been written under more extraordinary conditions than Death under Sail. Dr  C. P. Snow, a 26-year-old Cambridge “don”, has been busily engaged in experiments which may well be of vital importance to the human race. ……. Naturally work such as this has been a great strain to Dr Snow, and at one point during the proceedings he went for a short holiday on a friend’s yacht on the Norfolk Broads. Here it was that he evolved an extraordinary form of mental recreation for a man engaged in work that may result in banishing famine from the world and bringing good health within the reach of all. He planned and began to write a “thriller” . . . he developed a plot as watertight as the yacht he sailed, and eventually created the cleverest possible solution to the murder of the Harley Street specialist who met his death with a smile upon his lips. And they say scientists have no imagination!’ unquote.


(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Heinemann (UK), 1932)

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Doubleday The Crime Club (USA), 1932)

Roger Mills, a Harley Street specialist, is taking a sailing holiday on the Norfolk Broads. When his six guests find him at the tiller of his yacht with a smile on his face and a gunshot through his heart, all six fall under suspicion. The Green Popular Penguins Story It was in 1935 when Allen Lane stood on a British railway platform looking for something good to read on his journey. His choice was limited to popular magazines and poor quality paperbacks. Lane’s disappointment at the range of books available led him to found a company – and change the world. In 1935 the Penguin was born, but it took until the late 1940s for the Crime and Mystery series to emerge. The genre thrived in the post-war austerity of the 1940s, and reached heights of popularity by the 1960s. Suspense, compelling plots and captivating characters ensure that once again you need look no further than the Penguin logo for the scene of the perfect crime. (Source: Amazon)

Death Under Sail has been reviewed, among others, at Golden Age of Detection Wiki, Pretty Sinister Books, and My Reader’s Block.

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