Saturday, December 30, 2017

Archibald ('Archie') Laurence Lyall (1904-1964)

Archibald Lyall was the writer of Black and White Make Brown, and account of his journey in 1936 to the Cape Verde Islands and Portuguese Guinea (republished by me in 2008). It was great fun to read and as I was looking to know more about the writer, apparently an Englishman, there was little that could be found. Over the years I gradually found more and more pieces and this year - after acquiring the 'In Memorian' of his friends - I could draw up the chronology below.

Archie (for friends) was not only a writer. From profession he was a barrister, but in his younger years he was mainly traveling through Europe and publishing several travel books. But also linguistic ('25 languages') and anthropological ('It Isn't done', 'The Future of Taboo') attempts were made. During his entire lifetime a constant stream of ('unpublishable') limericks was produced. In the thirties he then somehow landed in 'military intelligence' (a contradiction in terms he would say), and became a member of SOE (Special Operations Executive, a British WWII organization). This way he was stationed in several European locations, but also as far as Jerusalem and Cairo. From 1954 on he was mainly staying in Italy and in another career he became an actor in at least 6 Italian movies.

It appears that Archie's mother was very dominant - he said she was the only person he was ever really afraid of. It took him quite some years to be on his own and financially independent from his parents. Archie had a lot of friends at many different places, all of his friend say so in the 'In Memorian'. These friends all acknowledge positive memories about the pleasure they had in his company - his presence is rarely forgotten by everyone who has ever met him. There were no topics you could not have a conversation with him about. Also, when entering whatever remote hotel, bar or restaurant - he would always be recognized and be offered the better table with his company. The many diners and drinks also had their toll - as the years went by he would be in and out of hospitals and clinics, usually to lose weight. He was also suffering at many times from gout. Rather late he married, friends remarked he almost became 'normal' (even his clothes looked presentable), but it was destined not to last. His death came sudden, without any friends, in a clinic in Zurich.

Drawing by Osbert Lancaster (published in the 'In Memorian')
Father: George Henry Hudson Pile, after name change (1914) George Lyall (1872-1938), solicitor
x (1899) Mother: Dame Beatrix Margaret Hudson Lyall [née Rostron], ; in WWI head of Red Cross
   Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
   National Portrait Gallery
Sister: Christina Marion Lyall (1908-1937)
x (1935) Rupert Lonsdale (Lieutenant-Commander)


1904 born in Chelsea/London
Education in Winchester
Education at New College, Oxford
1930 barrister (Lincoln’s Inn, London)
1930[BOOK] The Balkan Road
1930[BOOK] It Isn’t Done: or The Future of Taboo among the British Islanders
1930-31 through Engeland with Charles Carrington
1932 Belgrade
1932[BOOK] Envoy Extraordinary
1932[BOOK] A Guide to the 25 Languages of Europe
1933[BOOK] Russian Roundabout
1934 Barcelona
1937 Salamanca
1938[BOOK] Black and White Make Brown
Carrington: “...Archie’s ostensible reason to go there in 1937 was to look into a herbal drug which the Africans of these parts were alleged to use as an oral contraceptive. In addition to this serious enquiry on behalf of a chemical laboratory he admitted to me that he was to check rumours that the Nazis were constructing submarine bases in the Bissagos Islands, which no Englishman had visited for many years.”; Carrington: “For the rest of his life I scrupulously refrained from asking him about his employment and I know nothing of what he did for SOE [Special Operations Executive, British WWII organisation], except that he again extended his acquaintance.”
1939 London
1940[BOOK] Soldier's speak-easy: French and German for the British fighting forces
1940-41 Press attaché at the Legation in Belgrade
~1942 year in Jerusalem
1942 summer in Cairo (working for the Jugoslav section of Political Warfare)
1943 Jun in Cairo
1944 Apr in Bari
1945 Nov in Vienna
-1947 Intelligence Corps (Middle East, Italy, Austria), demobilized with the rank of lieutenant-colonel
1948 married Diodata ('Didi') Hawkins (daughter of Count Caboga of Dubrovnik)
1947-48 (winter) chairman of Extradition Tribunal in the British Zone of Germany
1948-1950 head of the British Element of the Allied Information Services in Triest
1950 move to Rome
1950-1951 director of the Public Information Office of the Allied Military Government in the British-United States Zone of Trieste
1954-55 Rome
1954[FILM] Un americano a Roma [L'ambasciatore, as Arcibaldo Layall]
1955[FILM] L'arte di arrangiarsi [as Archibald Lyall]
1956 marriage dissolved
1956[BOOK] Rome Sweet Rome
1959 tour through Morocco and Spain
1959[FILM] Mission in Morocco
1959[FILM] John Paul Jones [Steward, as Archie Lyall]
1959[FILM] Saeta del ruiseñor
1960[FILM] Nada menos que un arkángel
1960 Rome; Carrington: “...seriously ill in the Salvator-Mundi Hospital on the Janiculum.”
1960[BOOK] Well Met in Madrid
1962 in Oct driving back from Italy with Carrington
1963 Norfolk
1963[BOOK] Guide to the South of France
1964 died 25 Feb 1964 at Zurich Clinic
1966[BOOK] In Memorian ARCHIE (1904-1964), by his friends (edited by Patricia Clarke and David Footman)
1967[BOOK] History Syllabuses and a World Perspective (Education Today)
1973[BOOK] The companion guide to Tuscany