|Alexander Baron (4 December 1917 – 6 December 1999) was a British author and screenwriter.|
|He is best known for his highly acclaimed novel about D-Day entitled From the City from the Plough (1948) and his London novel The Lowlife (1963). His father was Barnet Bernstein, a Polish-Jewish immigrant to Britain who settled in the East End of London in 1908 and later worked as a furrier. Alexander Baron was born in Maidenhead and raised in the Hackney district of London. He attended Hackney Downs School. During the 1930s, Baron was a leading activist and organiser of the Labour League of Youth (at that time aligned with the Communist Party), campaigning against the fascists in the streets of the East End. Baron became increasingly disillusioned with far left politics as he spoke to International Brigade fighters returning from the Spanish Civil War, and finally broke with the communists after the Hitler–Stalin Pact of August 1939. |
Baron served in the Pioneer Corps of the British Army during World War II, experiencing fierce fighting in the Italian campaign, Normandy and in Northern France and Belgium. As a pioneer, he was among the first Allied troops to be landed in Sicily, Italy and on D-Day. He used his wartime experiences as the basis for his three best-selling war novels. After the war he became assistant editor of Tribune before publishing his first novel From the City from the Plough (1948). At this time, at the behest of his publisher Jonathan Cape, he also changed his name from Bernstein to Baron.
As well as continuing to write novels, in the 1950s Baron wrote screenplays for Hollywood, and by the 1960s he had become a regular writer on BBC's Play for Today. Later he became well known for drama serials like Poldark, and in the 1980s for BBC classic literary adaptations including Sense And Sensibility (1981), Jane Eyre (1983), Oliver Twist (1985) and Vanity Fair (1987).
Baron's personal papers are held in the archives of the University of Reading. His wartime letters and unpublished memoirs were used by the historian Sean Longden for his book To the Victor the Spoils, a social history of the British Army between D Day and VE Day. Baron has also been the subject of essays by Iain Sinclair and Ken Worpole.
Since Baron's death in December 1999 his novels have been republished several times, including his first war book From the City, From the Plough, his cult novel about the London underworld of the early 1960s, The Lowlife, which was cited in Jon Savage’s England’s Dreaming as a literary antecedent of punk; King Dido, a story of the violent rise and fall of an East End London gangster in Edwardian England; and Rosie Hogarth. Further books are under contract, testifying to a strong resurgence of interest among in Baron's work among the reading public as well as among critics and academics.