Sunday, February 21, 2010

George Howe

George Locke Howe was born in Bristol, Rhode Island, on 19 April 1898, the son of Wallis Eastburne Howe and his wife Mary. He served with the U.S. Naval Reserve Force during the First World War, enlisting as a Hospital Apprentice in September 1917, stationed at Newport before travelling overseas to Queenstown, Ireland, in 1918. He also served in Liverpool, Brest and on the U.S.S. Plattsburg, Cape Finisterre, returning to the US in 1919 where he was discharged in May.

After continuing his education at Harvard, Howe followed in his father's footsteps and became an architect in Rhode Island. Wallis travelled to Europe and North Africa in the 1920s and his first novel, Slaves Cottage, was started in Egypt in 1923 and completed in Bristol, Rhode Island, in 1934.

George Locke Howe, circa 1924

During World War II, Howe served in Europe with the OSS unit, G-2, U.S. Seventh Army, in Algeria and France (1944-45), responsible for documentation and cover stories. He received the Medal of Freedom.

Call It Freedom, in which an anti-Nazi German prisoner-of-war volunteers to be dropped behind enemy lines as a spy for the American army, was based on actual events and Howe's experiences in Army Intelligence. It won the $15,000 Christophers Award, the annual award of a Roman Catholic literary organisation, in 1949 and was quickly picked up by Twentieth Century Fox, with Anatole Litvak attached to produce and direct as part of his multiple picture contract with Fox. The film was shot entirely in Germany under the title Legion of the Damned, although part-way through became Decision Before Dawn. The movie, starring Oskar Werner, stretched Fox's finances, costing $2 million, and faced numerous problems, not least of which was to find German uniforms and military equipment in demilitarised Germany.

Howe wrote a further two novels, as well as short stories and verse, but concentrated mostly on his career as an architect. He died on 19 June 1977 at the Veterans Administration Hospital, Salem, Virginia, aged 79. Married at the age of 29 to Elizabeth Wolcott Parker, he had four children.

Slaves Cottage. New York, Coward-McCann, 1935.
Call It Treason. New York, Viking Press, Aug 1949; London, Hart-Davis, 1950; as Decision Before Dawn, London, Brown Watson (Digit Books), 1958.
The Heart Alone. New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1953.
Mount Hope. A New England chronicle. New York, Viking Press, 1959.

1 comment:

  1. Allan Blackwell26 Jul 2010, 20:44:00

    Thanks very much for that bio of George Locke Howe. I should point out, though, that Howe's novel was called CALL IT TREASON.



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