The Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton

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 the wet lettuce Robert Redford.

Fighter and lover
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? The Tweed Pig sounds like a rather enticing name for a cosy pub, if you ask me.


  1. Indeed. DFH was an intriguing character, and an inspiration for some.

    1. Thanks LBF. I call for a proper treatment of his life on celluloid. But who has right nose for the part? That's a pretty slim one. Best wishes, Tweedy

  2. I second that call. Actor would need right nose, and bald head. DFH, as you know, was almost completely bald, which I suppose just goes to show that hair is quite overrated and no barrier to success and adoration. The Wheeler book was excellent. The Trzebinski one, not so much, in my opinion. Robert Redford was an awful choice in the movie.

    1. Max Irons is almost there with the nose. His luxuriant hair can be easily fixed too. I haven't read the Trzebinski one. Thanks for saving me the time. All the best from Blighty. Tweedy


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