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Leslie Poles Hartley (30 December 1895 – 13 December 1972) was a British writer, known for novels and short stories. His best known work is The Go-Between (1953), which was made into a 1970 film, directed by Joseph Losey with a star cast, in an adaptation by Harold Pinter. The book's opening sentence, "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there", has become almost proverbial.

Hartley was born in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire. He was educated in Cliftonville, Thanet, then briefly at Clifton College, where he first met Clifford Henry Benn Kitchin, and at Harrow School.

In 1915 he went up to Balliol College, Oxford, to read modern history. There he befriended Aldous Huxley. In 1916 he joined the British Army. He was commissioned as an officer but for health reasons never left the United Kingdom. Invalided out, he returned to Oxford in 1919, where he gathered a number of literary friends, including Lord David Cecil.

His work was published in Oxford Poetry in 1920 and 1922. He edited Oxford Outlook, with Gerald Howard and A. B. B. Valentine in 1920, and in 1921 with Basil Murray and M. C. Hollis also. At this time he was introduced by Huxley to Lady Ottoline Morrell. Kitchin, who was at Oxford also, introduced him to the Asquiths; Cynthia Asquith became a lifelong friend. Despite being named after Leslie Stephen, Hartley always belonged to the Asquith milieu, and was rebuffed by the Bloomsbury group.

Success came with having his first writing published and becoming a reviewer after his Oxford degree. Though this gave him rapid social elevation his life remained very strained, and in 1922 he suffered a nervous breakdown. Soon afterwards he started spending much time in Venice; he continued to do so for many years.

Until the success of The Go-Between he gained little recognition. He was, however, awarded the 1947 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Eustace and Hilda and in 1956 he was awarded the CBE.

There is a critical analysis of Hartley's ghost stories in Jack Sullivan's book Elegant Nightmares: The English Ghost Story From Le Fanu to Blackwood (1978). A critical essay on Hartley's ghost stories appears in S. T. Joshi's book The Evolution of the Weird Tale (2004).


  • Night Fears (1924), short stories
  • Simonetta Perkins (1925)
  • The Killing Bottle (1932), short stories
  • The Shrimp and the Anemone (1944), Eustace and Hilda Trilogy I
  • The West Window (1945)
  • The Sixth Heaven (1946), Eustace and Hilda Trilogy II
  • Eustace and Hilda (1947), Eustace and Hilda Trilogy III
  • The Travelling Grave and Other Stories (1948), short stories
  • The Boat (1949)
  • My Fellow Devils (1951)
  • The Go-Between (1953)
  • The White Wand and Other Stories (1954), short stories
  • A Perfect Woman (1955)
  • The Hireling (1957)
  • Facial Justice (1960)
  • Two for the River (1961), short stories
  • The Brickfield (1964)
  • The Betrayal (1966)
  • Essays by Divers Hands, Volume XXXIV (1966), editor
  • The Novelist's Responsibility (1967), essays
  • Poor Clare (1968)
  • The Collected Short Stories of L. P. Hartley (1968)
  • The Love-Adept: A Variation on a Theme (1969)
  • My Sisters' Keeper (1970)
  • Mrs. Carteret Receives (1971), short stories
  • The Harness Room (1971)
  • The Collections: A Novel (1972)
  • The Will and the Way (1973)
  • The Complete Short Stories of L. P. Hartley (1973)
  • The Collected Macabre Stories (2001)


  • Peter Bien (1963), L. P. Hartley
  • E. T. Jones (1978), L. P. Hartley
  • Anne Mulkeen (1974), Wild Thyme, Winter Lightning: The Symbolic Novels of L. P. Hartley
  • Adrian Wright (1996), Foreign Country: The Life of L. P. Hartley


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Leslie Poles Hartley (1895-12-301972-12-13) was a British writer.


The Go-Between (1953)

  • The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
    • First sentence
  • "But men still shoot each other, don't they?" I asked hopefully.
"They shot me," he answered, with what I took to be a smile.
"Yes, but that was in a war. Do they still shoot each other over ladies?" I imagined a carpet of prostrate women, over whom shots rang out.
  • "I might go for a walk." Even to me this sounded a pedestrian thing to do.
  • I caught glimpses of white-clad figures striding purposefully to and fro, heard men's voices calling each other in tones of authority and urgency, as if life had suddenly become more serious, as if battle were in prospect.
  • I remember walking to the cricket ground with the team, sometimes trying to feel, and sometimes trying not to feel, that I was one of them; and the conviction I had, which comes so quickly to a boy, that nothing in the world mattered except that we should win.

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