Wednesday, 19 November 2014
The Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton
Fighter and Lover
Denys Finch Hatton lived through that extraordinary period of change at the start of the 20th century. He was an English aristocrat and top-rate charmer; his charm compensating for a general lack of ambition. You know the type: 'Old Etonian drifter'. You may be familiar with his name through the film Out of Africa where he is played wholly inaccurately by Robert Redford.
Denys was a big-game hunter (later photographer), adventurer and settler in Kenya who was awarded the Military Cross in the First World War. He was part of the Happy Valley Set in Kenya in the 1920s, where he is most famous for his affair with Baroness Karen Blixen. His (equal) love of the landscape in East Africa led him in later life to be a determined conservationist.
Sarah Wheeler's biography of Denys, Too Close To The Sun: The Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton [Amazon], is an enjoyable read that uses themes from his life as an attractive hook on which to vividly describe English colonial society in that era.
Of Denys Finch Hatton, it was said: 'No one who ever met him whether man or woman, old or young, white or black, failed to come under his spell.'
Drink to Denys Finch Hatton
There is a pub in Ewerby, Linconshire, that was previously used as hunting lodge by DFH. It's naturally called The Finch Hatton Arms. I think he would enjoy that recognition. Who amongst us wouldn't like a pub named after them?