Saturday, November 11, 2017

N. Roy Clifton (b. 1909)



Norman Roy Clifton was born on September 17, 1909, in Sheerness, Kent, England. His parents were Irish-born but lived in England. They emigrated in the census year of 1911 and were in Winnipeg, in the Province of Manitoba, in the Canadian census year of 1921. Mr. Clifton was on the move again during a census year in 1930, when he crossed from Canada into the United States. He was enumerated that year in Manhattan but was without employment in the first full year of the Great Depression. The book jacket biography above, from Mr. Clifton's book The Figure in Film (1983), gives the facts regarding his career. Educated in England, Winnipeg, and Auckland, New Zealand, N. Roy Clifton worked as a lawyer, educator, and librarian. He is also keenly interested in theater, film, and square dancing. You will notice that I have used the present tense in describing him, for according to a source on the Internet, Mr. Clifton is, I'm happy to say, still with us at age 108.

In addition to being a poet and an author of non-fiction, Mr. Clifton wrote a children's novel called The City Beyond the Gates, illustrated by Tibor Kovalik and published by Scholastic-TAB Publications in 1977. It's an odd book and written in an odd way. The language, imagery, and themes are are a mix of the poetic, allegorical, dreamy, fabulous, absurdist, and surrealistic. It is in fact a dystopian novel, an unusual genre for children. It must surely be one of the earliest books of its kind written specifically for children. By the way, the illustrator, Tibor Kovalik, was born in 1935 in what was then Czechoslovakia. He emigrated to Canada in 1968 and has worked as an artist, art director, and art teacher. You can find his self-titled website at this link: http://www.tiborkovalik.com/personal.en.php.

Original text copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley