Philip Toynbee

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Theodore Philip Toynbee (25 June 1916 – 15 June 1981) was a British writer and communist. He wrote experimental novels, and distinctive verse novels, one of which was an epic called Pantaloon, a work in several volumes, only some of which are published. He also wrote memoirs of the 1930s, and reviews and literary criticism, the latter mainly via his employment with The Observer newspaper.

He was born in Oxford; his father was the historian Arnold J. Toynbee, and his maternal grandfather was Gilbert Murray. He was educated at Rugby School, where he became rebellious, reacting against the public school system. Inspired by the example of Esmond Romilly, later a friend, he ran away, returned shortly and was expelled. He later wrote a memoir of Romilly, and Jasper Ridley (1913–1944), entitled Friends Apart. Through Romilly, Toynbee met Jessica Mitford, who became a close friend after Esmond died in WWII. He was also influenced by bookshop owner and would be encourager of the young radical element David Archer, whom he met through David Gascoyne.

At Christ Church, Oxford in the late 1930s he became the first communist president of the Oxford Union, at the height of its success and social acceptability. He visited Spain at the end of 1936, at the start of the Spanish Civil War, in a student delegation. He was said to have been beaten up by Mosley's Blackshirts at a fascist meeting. In 1938–39 he edited the Birmingham Town Crier.

He married twice: in 1939, Anne Powell and in...
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