Roy Horniman

Robert (Roy) Horniman, novelist and playwright, was born in Southsea in 1872, son of the distinguished sailor and Paymaster-in-Chief of the Royal Navy, William Horniman, and an aristocratic Greek mother.

He was educated abroad, then at Southsea Grammar School, and at the age of 19 went on the stage. For a time he was tenant and manager of the Criterion Theatre, writing many original plays and adaptations of his own and others’ novels. In later life he wrote and adapted for the screen, and after his death his 1907 novel Israel Rank (also known as Kind Hearts and Coronets) became the basis for the 1949 film Kind Hearts and Coronets.

In World War I he served in the Artist’s Rifles. As well as his professional work Roy Horniman devoted much time and energy to various causes, especially anti-vivisection for which he often spoke eloquently in public. A contemporary characterised him as ‘a well-to-do bachelor who knew what did and what did not suit him, marriage being in the latter category, the social round in the former’.

He died in London in 1930 at the age of 62.

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