Peyton, John (Wynne William) 1919-

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PEYTON, John (Wynne William) 1919-


Born February 13, 1919, in England; son of Ivor Eliot and Dorothy Helen (Elphinstone) Peyton; married Diana Clinch, December 1, 1947 (divorced 1966); married Mary Constance Wyndham, 1966; children: Sarah, Thomas. Education: Trinity College, Oxford, M.A.


Home—Old Malt House, Hinton, St. George, Somerset TA17 8SE, England; 6 Temple West Mews, West Square, London SE11 4TJ, England.


Civil servant. Conservative member of parliament for Yeovil, beginning 1951; Parliamentary secretary to Ministry of Power, 1962-64; minister for transport industries, 1970-74; shadow leader of commons, 1974-76; opposition spokesman for agriculture, 1976-79. Texas Instruments, chairman of board, beginning 1974; British Alcan, director, beginning 1983.


Boodle's Club, Pratt's Club, Beefsteak Club.


Solly Zuckerman: A Scientist out of the Ordinary, John Murray (London, England), 2001.


British baron and conservative member of Parliament John Peyton took time out from his political duties to pen Solly Zuckerman: A Scientist out of the Ordinary, a biographer of the noted British anatomist, zoologist, and wartime adviser to the British government. In Contemporary Review, Charles Foster praised Solly Zuckerman as a "superb, sensitive and highly readable biography," and added that in covering Zuckerman's multifaceted life Peyton "approached the problem of describing an immensely complicated human ecosystem … by writing a number of chronologically parallel biographies. So we have chapters on the Birmingham University Department of Anatomy (which he headed from 1943 to 1968), on London Zoo (of which he was Secretary or President between 1955 and 1984), and the Ministry of Defense (which he advised formally or informally for many decades)."

Zuckerman arrived in England as an zoologist whose study of baboons earned him a research post at University College, London, and a job at the National History Museum. In 1940 he joined professor J. D. Bernal in a study of the effects upon simians of the aftereffects of a German bombing attack. Noting Zuckerman's total adherence to scientific methodology over suppositions, Peyton details the zoologist's growing influence among those individuals put in positions of military and political decision making. Studying bomb sites in the Middle East, North Africa, and Italy, Zuckerman became an expert in strategic bombing, and his service to the British government during World War II was of crucial importance to the outcome of the war. As related in Peyton's biography, Lord Leslie Scarman later recalled, "In 1944 I saw him day in and day out as he advised [British military officials] on the bombing strategy which destroyed the capacity of the German forces to hold Western Europe against our invasion and liberation."

While noting that Peyton is "no historian of science and never puts Zuckerman in any sort of intellectual context," Times Literary Supplement contributor Ben Shephard noted that when discussing Zuckerman's later career in politics and organizational posts, Peyton comes into his own due to his knowledge of the inner workings of bureaucracy. "Peyton writes about these worlds with easy authority and gentle acerbity," Shephard noted, adding that Solly Suckerman sheds "useful light on Zuckerman's character and time in White-hall." Foster noted of Peyton's approach to his subject that, "as a psychologist, he is acute and sympathetic, getting closer to Zuckerman's raison d'etre than any previous commentator: 'The existence of any unfilled space in Solly's life was always a source of unease,' Peyton writes. 'Not only did it mean wasted time, but it made room for unwelcome doubts about himself and uncertainty as to his place in the scheme of things.… The unknown Jewish immigrant was always at his elbow on smart occasions to remind him of the man he had once been and whom he had never left far behind.'" Noting in Contemporary Review that "Zuckerman should be actively mourned," Foster concluded: "Peyton's great oration will help."



Booklist, December 15, 2001, Gilbert Taylor, review of Solly Zuckerman: A Scientist out of the Ordinary, p. 694.

Contemporary Review, November 1, 2001, Charles Foster, "Solly Zuckerman: The Last Evangelist of the Enlightenment," p. 306.

English Journal, April, 1991, Elizabeth A. Belden and Judith M. Beckman, review of Solly Zuckerman, p. 83.

Nature, August 16, 2001, John Maddox, review of Solly Zuckerman, p. 679.

New Scientist, June 9, 2001, Andrew Tickle, review of Solly Zuckerman, p. 47.

Queen's Quarterly, fall, 2001, J. W. Grove, review of Solly Zuckerman, p. 421.

Science, August 24, 2001, Keith O'Nions, review of Solly Zuckerman, p. 1440.

Spectator, Steve King, review of Solly Zuckerman, p. 39.

Times Higher Education Supplement, June 29, 2001, John Ashworth, review of Solly Zuckerman, p. 32.

Times Literary Supplement, October 12, 2001, Ben Shepard, review of Solly Zuckerman, p. 26.*