John Hampson was born John Frederick Norman Hampson Simpson (he adopted the name John Hampson for his writing) in Handsworth, Birmingham in 1901. His father’s family has been a theatrical family but Hampson’s father was the manager and part-owner of a brewery which went bankrupt in 1907, leaving the family in dire financial straits, till his father found a job as the manager of a motor cycle depot five years later. At age sixteen (most of his education had been at home because of his poor health) he left home and worked various odd jobs, including in hotel kitchens, as a billiard marker and as a nurse but also, according to E M Forster as a book thief. His first published work – Saturday Night at the Greyhound – was published when he was thirty by the Hogarth Press and turned out be one of their best-sellers and also his best-known novel, though Virginia Woolf preferred O Providence and Go Seek a Stranger, the first novel he had written but which was never published because of its strong homosexual themes. His subsequent works were less successful. His second novel O Providence was a fairly conventional family saga, along the lines of The Forsyte Saga and his third novel, Strip Jack Naked, was rejected by the Hogarth Press and published by Heinemann. The Hogarth Press did not publish any more of his work.
In 1936, he married the German actress Therese Giehse, in order to give her British citizenship and thereby escape the Nazis. They did not live together. Hampson continued writing but did not repeat his earlier success. He only published one book after the war though he did seem to have written at least one other that was not published. By this time his reputation had all but faded, so much so that he had difficulty in finding copies of his own novels to buy. When he died in 1955, he only got a small obituary and has since been almost completely forgotten though Saturday Night at the Greyhound, a work which deserves to be better known, was republished in 1986 but has since again gone out of print. He was later associated with the Birmingham Group of writers.
1931 Saturday Night at the Greyhound
1931 The Sight of Blood
1931 Two Stories: The Mare’s Nest; The Long Shadow
1932 O Providence
1934 Strip Jack Naked
1935 Man about the House
1936 Family Curse
1938 The Larches (with L. A. Pavey)
1939 Care of”The Grand”
1944 The English at Table
1952 A Bag of Stones