William Plomer’s biography, net worth, fact, career, awards and life story

Intro South African-British writer
A.K.A. William Charles Franklyn Plomer
Was Musician 
From South Africa 
Type Literature 
Gender male
Birth 10 December 1903, Polokwane
Death 21 September 1973, Lewes
(aged 69 years)

William Charles Franklyn Plomer CBE (he pronounced the surname as ploomer) (10 December 1903 – 21 September 1973) was a South African and British author, known as a novelist, poet and literary editor.


Self-described as an “Anglo-African-Asian”, Plomer was educated mostly in the United Kingdom. He became famous in the Union of South Africa with his first novel, Turbott Wolfe, which had inter-racial love and marriage as a theme. He was co-founder of the short-lived literary magazine Voorslag (“Whiplash”) with two other South African rebels, Roy Campbell and Laurens van der Post; it promoted a racially equal South Africa.

He spent the period from October 1926 to March 1929 in Japan, where he was friendly with Sherard Vines. There, according to biographers, he was in a same-sex relationship with a Japanese man. He was never openly gay during his lifetime; at most he alluded to the subject.

He then moved to England and, through his friendship with his publisher Virginia Woolf, entered the London literary circles. He became a literary editor for Faber and Faber, and was a reader and literary adviser to Jonathan Cape, where he edited a number of Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. Fleming dedicated Goldfinger to Plomer.

Plomer is known to have used the pseudonym ‘Robert Pagan’, notably for some of his poetry.

He was also active as a librettist, with Gloriana, Curlew River, The Burning Fiery Furnace and The Prodigal Son for Benjamin Britten. He died at his home in Hassocks, West Sussex on September 21st 1973 aged 69.


  • 1925. Turbott Wolfe (novel)
  • 1927. Notes for Poems. Hogarth Press, London (poetry)
  • 1927. I Speak of Africa (short stories)
  • 1929. The Family Tree. Hogarth, London (poetry)
  • 1929. Paper Houses. Hogarth, London (short stories)
  • 1931. Sado. Hogarth, London (novel)
  • 1932. The Case is Altered (novel)
  • 1932. The Fivefold Screen (poetry)
  • 1933. The Child of Queen Victoria (short stories)
  • 1933. Cecil Rhodes (biography)
  • 1934. The Invaders (novel)
  • 1936. Visiting the Caves. Cape, London (poetry)
  • 1936. Ali the Lion (biography, reissued in 1970 as The Diamond of Janina)
  • 1937. William Plomer (editor): Haruko Ichikawa: A Japanese Lady in Europe. Cape, London
  • 1938. Selections from the Diary of the Rev. Francis Kilvert (1870–1879)
  • 1940. Selected Poems. Hogarth, London
  • 1942. In a Bombed House, 1941: Elegy in Memory of Anthony Butts (poetry)
  • 1943. Double Lives: An Autobiography. Cape, London.
  • 1945. Curious Relations. Cape, London. under pseudonym William D’Arfey. Collaboration with Anthony Butts (memoirs of Butts’s family)
  • 1945. The Dorking Thigh and Other Satires (poetry)
  • 1949. Four Countries. Cape, London (short stories)
  • 1952. Museum Pieces (novel)
  • 1955. A Shot in the Park (poetry, published in U.S. as Borderline Ballads)
  • 1958. At Home: Memoirs. Cape, London.
  • 1960. Collected Poems. Cape, London.
  • 1960. A Choice of Ballads (poetry)
  • 1966. Taste and Remember (poetry)
  • 1975. The Autobiography of William Plomer. Cape, London (revision of Double Lives, he died before he could rework At Home)
  • 1978. Electric Delights. Selected and introduced by Rupert Hart-Davis. Cape, London (previously uncollected pieces, including the essay “On Not Answering the Telephone”)
  • Benny Green, “Dilemmas”, The Spectator, 31 March 1978, p. 22.