James Hilton (1900-1954)


James Hilton was born in Leigh, Lancashire in 1900 and educated at the George Monoux School, Walthamstow and then The Leys, Cambridge. He studied English and History at Christ's and published his first novel, Catherine Herself while still an undergraduate. He left university in 1921 and became a freelance journalist. In 1933, he wrote the novel Lost Horizon, which was an instant success and made his mythical paradise of 'Shangri-La' a household name. The book was awarded the Hawthornden Prize in 1934.

He really came to prominence, however, in 1933, with the publication of Goodbye, Mr Chips, a story about an elderly, much-loved schoolmaster which was an instant success in both Britain and America. This led to some of his earlier novels being reissued. Along with other novels Lost Horizon and Random Harvest, Goodbye, Mr Chips became a world-wide hit movie. Hilton became a sought-after Hollywood scriptwriter and contributed to the Greer Garson wartime classic Mrs Miniver.

He died in hospital on 20 December 1954. The James Hilton Society was set up in 2000 to promote interest in Hilton's life and work. It publishes an annual journal and issues a Newsletter four times a year.