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Alexander Wallace 'Xan' Fielding was a British writer and translator, notable for his English translations of La Planète des singes (Monkey Planet / Planet of the Apes) and Le Pont de la rivière Kwaï (The Bridge on the River Kwai), both by French novelist Pierre Boulle.

Born at Ootacamund, India, where his father served as a major in the Indian Army, Fielding's mother died soon after his birth, and he was largely brought up in Nice, France, by his grandparents and educated at Charterhouse School in Britain and at the Universities of Bonn, Munich and Freiberg in Germany. In the late 1930s Fielding moved to Cyprus, where he worked as a sub-editor on The Cyprus Times and ran a bar. Fielding joined the army following the outbreak of World War II and served as a British Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent in Crete, being awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1942. He was captured by the Germans in occupied France in 1944 but escaped imminent execution by the remarkable intercession of the Polish SOE agent, Krystyna Skarbek/Christine Granville, using a mixture of bribery and threats. He was one of the first Allied officers to enter liberated Athens and served in the Far East for a few months until the end of the war, and as a United Nations observer in the Balkans in 1946.

Major Fielding wrote a book on Crete, The Stronghold, and a memoir of his SOE wartime experiences, Hide and Seek (which he dedicated to the recently murdered Christine Granville). In 1956 he was hired as technical adviser for the filming of the book Ill Met by Moonlight, the story of the abduction of the German commander in Crete by the SOE's Bill Stanley Moss and Patrick Leigh Fermor, and Fielding collaborated with Fermor in a translation from Greek of the book The Cretan Runner. He also provided the English translations for many of the works of Pierre Boulle - another former agent of the SOE - as well as several books by Jean Lartéguy, Gabriel Chevallier, Pierre Schoendoerffer and Jean Hougron. He was close friends with the poet and novelist Lawrence Durrell. In 1953 he married Lady Daphne Thynne, the ex-wife of the Marquess of Bath, and after their divorce in 1978 he married Agnes "Magouche" Phillips, the daughter of U.S. Navy Admiral John H. Magruder and the widow of the Armenian artist Arshile Gorky. Xan Fielding died in Paris, France, in 1991.

WorksEdit

  • The Stronghold: an Account of the Four Seasons in the White Mountains of Crete (1953)
  • Hide and Seek (1954, wartime memoirs)
  • Corsair Country (1959, a history of the pirates of the Barbary Coast)
  • Money Spinner: Monte Carlo and Its Fabled Casino (1977)
  • Best of Friends: the Brenan-Partridge Letters (editor, 1986)
  • One Man in His Time: The Life of Lieutenant-Colonel N.L.D. ("Billy") McLean DSO (1990)
  • Aeolus Displayed (1991)
  • Images of Spain (1991)
  • Hideous Disguise (1994)

External LinksEdit

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