On this day...the birth of a best-selling author

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On this day in 1921 Charles Edmund Dumaresq Clavell was born in Sydney, Australia, the son of Capt Richard Clavell RN and Eileen Ross.

His parents returned to Britain when he was nine months old and the family settled in Portsmouth.

Educated at Portsmouth Grammar School between 1935 and 1940, he was known to his friends (including Alan Bristow the future helicopter entrepreneur) as Jimmy.

He took an active part in school life and sports, but when the Second World War started it prevented him from going to university and he joined the Royal Artillery.

In 1941 he was sent to Singapore and was captured later that year by the Japanese and imprisoned for four years in the notorious Changi camp where only one in 15 survived their internment by the Japanese. He later claimed that Changi was his university, triggering a lifelong fascination with the far east.

On February 26, 1949 he married April Jose Stride, a dancer and actress from Southsea.

The couple emigrated to the United States where James Clavell became a bestselling international author.

Most of his novels were filmed, including King Rat, Shogun and Noble House.

He also worked in films, directing To Sir With Love and writing the screenplay for The Great Escape. He died in Switzerland in 1994 aged 69 – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.