Kee, Robert 1919-

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Kee, Robert 1919-


Born October 5, 1919, in Calcutta, India; British citizen; son of Robert (a merchant) and Dorothy Kee; married Janetta Woolley, 1948 (divorced, 1950); married Cynthia Judah (a journalist), 1960 (divorced, 1989); married Kate Trevelyan (a publisher), 1990; children: (first marriage) one daughter; (second marriage) two sons and one daughter. Education: Magdalen College, Oxford, B.A., 1940, M.A., 1971.


Home—London, England. Agent—Rogers, Coleridge & White, 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN, England.


Affiliated with Picture Post magazine, 1948-52; World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, picture editor, 1953; Observer, London, England, special correspondent, 1956-57; Spectator, London, literary editor, 1957; Sunday Times, London, special correspondent, 1957-58; affiliated with British Broadcasting Corporation, London, 1958-62, 1978-82; affiliated with Television Reporters International, London, 1962-64; Independent Television, London, broadcaster, 1964-76; broadcaster for Yorkshire Television, 1976-78, 1984-89; associated with TV-AM (television station), 1983. Military service: Royal Air Force, 1940-46, prisoner of war in Germany and Poland, 1942-45; became flight lieutenant.


Society of Authors, Reform Club.


Award for literature, Atlantic Monthly, 1946, for A Crowd Is Not Company; Alistair Horne research fellow, St. Antony's College, Oxford, 1972-73; Richard Dimbleby Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1976, for "First Report"; Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Award, 1982, for Ireland: A History; decorated Commander, Order of the British Empire, 1998.


A Crowd Is Not Company, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1947, 3rd edition, Phoenix Press (London, England), 2000.

The Impossible Shore, Eyre & Spottiswoode (London, England), 1949, McGraw Hill (New York, NY), 1950.

(Editor) Desmond MacCarthy, Memories (essays), MacGibbon & Kee (London, England), 1953.

A Sign of the Times, Eyre & Spottiswoode (London, England), 1955.

Broadstrop in Season, Secker & Warburg (London, England), 1959.

Refugee World, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1961.

The Green Flag: The Turbulent History of the Irish National Movement, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1972, published as The Green Flag: A History of Irish Nationalism, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1972, published in three volumes as The Green Flag, Viking Penguin (Bergenfield, NJ), 1995.

Ireland: A History, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1981, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1982, revised edition, 1995.

(Author of introduction) We'll Meet Again: Photographs of Daily Life in Britain during World War Two, J.M. Dent (London, England), 1984.

1939: In the Shadow of War, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1984, published as The World We Left Behind: A Chronicle of the Year 1939, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1984.

1945: The World We Fought For, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1985.

Trial and Error: The Maguires, the Guildford Pub Bombings, and British Justice, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1986.

Munich: The Eleventh Hour, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1988.

The Picture Post Album, Barrie & Jenkins (London, England), 1989.

The Laurel and the Ivy: The Story of Charles Stewart Parnell and Irish Nationalism, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1993.

Contributor to A Journalist's Odyssey by Patrick O'Donovan, Esmonde, 1985 (London, England). Also presenter and author of scripts for television series, including First Report, Independent Television, 1972-74, and documentaries for British Broadcasting Corporation, including General Strike, 1976, Faces of Communism, 1977, and Ireland: A Television History, 1978-81. Contributor to Independent Television broadcasts, 1982-88, including Seven Days.


Ernst Kreuder, The Attic Pretenders, MacGibbon & Kee (London, England), 1948.

Hans Werner Richter, The Odds against Us, MacGibbon & Kee (London, England), 1950.

(With Terence Kilmartin) Chris Marker, The Forthright Spirit, Allan Wingate (London, England), 1951.

Hans Carossa, The Year of Sweet Illusions, Methuen (London, England), 1951.

Karl Eska, The Five Seasons, Viking (New York, NY), 1954.

(With John Russell) Roger Nimier, Children of Circumstance, MacGibbon & Kee (London, England), 1954.

Joseph Scholmer, Vorkuta, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1954, Holt (New York, NY), 1955.

Hans Hellmut Kirst, Zero Eight Fifteen, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1955.

Friedrich Deich, The Sanity Inspectors, Putnam (New York, NY), 1956.

Hans Hellmut Kirst, The Return of Gunner Asch, Collins (London, England), 1957.

Michael Horbach, The Great Betrayal, Bodley Head (London, England), 1958, enlarged photographic edition published as The Betrayed, Coward-McCann (New York, NY), 1959.

(With Susi Hughes) Hans Egon Holthusen, The Crossing, Deutsch (London, England), 1959.

Hans Wilhelm Pump, Before the Great Snow, Deutsch (London, England), 1959.

Joachim Fernau, A Report on the Terribleness and Greatness of Men, Constable (London, England), 1960.

Hans Hellmut Kirst, Officer Factory, Collins (London, England), 1962, reprinted, Cassell (London, England), 2002.

Hans Werner Richter, Beyond Defeat, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1962.

Hans Hellmut Kirst, The Revolt of Gunner Asch, Chivers (Bath, England), 1977.

Hans Hellmut Kirst, Gunner Asch Goes to War, Chivers (Bath, England), 1978.


Robert Kee is the author of novels and history books. Although he translated several books from German into English beginning in the 1950s, he first started to gain critical attention in 1972 with the publication of The Green Flag: The Turbulent History of the Irish National Movement. In the book Kee explores the development of Irish nationalism, mainly through the use of newspaper clippings of important events in Irish history. Critics made note of the author's skill in selecting relevant and informative newspaper stories and in using those stories for studying the past. Kee continued his examination of Ireland with his book Ireland: A History, based on his television series Ireland: A Television History.

Kee then wrote about two significant years in Western history, 1939 and 1945, using a narrative based on newspaper and radio stories to reveal the atmosphere of the periods. Both books are centered on World War II, with the first one, 1939: In the Shadow of War, telling the story of the first months of the war, and the other, subtitled 1945: The World We Fought For, telling the story of the last five months of the war and the immediate aftermath.

In Trial and Error: The Maguires, the Guildford Pub Bombings, and British Justice, Kee explores the cases of the "Guildford four" and the Maguire family who were given long prison sentences, some for life, following an Irish Republican Army bombing that killed twenty-one people in 1974. In his book Kee explains that those who were sent to prison were wrongly convicted, and that the sentences were all subsequently quashed. Kee's next book, Munich: The Eleventh Hour, is an extension of work done for a television documentary on the subject. The book chronicles events surrounding the 1939 Munich Pact in which England, France, and Italy agreed to let Germany seize the Sudetenland, a German-speaking section of Czechoslovakia. The Western allies were hoping to appease Adolf Hitler and avoid war, but Hitler instead used the pact to conquer all of Czechoslovakia before invading the rest of Eastern Europe. While some critics observed that Kee only repeats what historians have concluded for many years, others cited the author for his balanced, thoughtful version of the era. Writing in the Spectator, Colin Welch noted that "Kee's account of the deepening crisis is sober and careful, bright colours avoided, emotions understated."



New York Times, August 12, 1985, John Gross, review of 1945: The World We Fought For, p. 15.

New York Times Book Review, February 11, 1973, review of The Green Flag: The Turbulent History of the Irish National Movement, p. 6; April 15, 1984, Drew Middleton, review of 1939: In the Shadow of War, p. 22.

Spectator, May 11, 1985, review of 1945, p. 23; October 25, 1986, review of Trial and Error: The Maguires, the Guildford Pub Bombings, and British Justice, p. 35; October 1, 1988, review of Munich: The Eleventh Hour, p. 33.

Times (London, England), April 26, 1984, Woodrow Wyatt, review of 1939: The World We Left Behind, p. 11.

Times Literary Supplement, February 13, 1981, review of Ireland: A History, p. 165; May 17, 1985, review of 1945, p. 554; December 5, 1986, review of Trial and Error, p. 1365; December 30, 1988, review of Munich, p. 1438.