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Jean Overton Fuller passed away

Apr 10, 2009 09:36 AM
by Govert Schuller

Dear all,

Just received word that Theosophical author Jean Overton Fuller passed away on April 8 from pneumonia at age 94. 

As an author she will be specifically remembered for the following books:

- Sir Francis Bacon: A Biography
- The Comte de Saint-Germain
- Blavatsky and Her Teachers
- Krishnamurti & The Wind

Two years ago she also published her autobiography, which review follows below. 


Driven to It 

A remarkable life story and some significant history, too., 13 Jul 2007 
      By  M. Little (Glasgow, Scotland)  

DRIVEN TO IT is the life story of a writer whose name half a century ago was on everybody's lips and concerning whose first two books, MADELEINE published in 1952 and THE STARR AFFAIR published in 1954, indignant questions were asked in Parliament. 

The furore she created then is partly forgotten now, but only because its consquences - and its content - have passed into people's general awareness of the history of Europe and the tragedies of World War Two. In the nineteen fifties Jean Overton Fuller's books broke fresh ground, for she was the first person publicly to describe the shadowy, complicated and (in some respects) sadly mismanaged French Section of the British Special Operations Executive. 

Ms Fuller's involvement in this calamitous story arose partly by chance. A gifted friend of hers called Noor Inayat Khan - who was half Indian, half American, bilingual in French and English and the daughter of a London neighbour - had been recruited into secret war work in 1943. Captured and imprisoned by the Germans in Paris, she was subsequently murdered in a German concentration camp. Appalling stories about Noor's fate were drifting back to London and Ms Fuller, who was something of a linguist, set out for the Continent to find out what had actually happened to her friend. 

The quest took a number of years and involved in-depth interviews with very many interesting people, most of them French or German. Ms Fuller found out a great deal - not only about her friend Noor, but also about the Special Operations Executive and its workings. In particular, she became the first English-speaking person to publicise what was known to the Germans as the "Englandspiel" - the "England game" whereby captured British radio transmitters were played back to London by Germans who impersonated the imprisoned agents. 

The "Englandspiel", which continued for years, resulted in not only British military equipment but also many British agents being parachuted into France straight into the arms of the Gestapo and it was revelations about this, of course, which caused an outcry in Parliament. There were demands for Fuller's books to be banned. However, as neither she nor her French and German informants had signed the Official Secrets Act, they could not be silenced - a magnificent tribute, when one comes to think about it, to the freedom we in Britain still treasure. 

Jean Overton Fuller is now in her nineties and this autobiography - written, she tells us, only during the past two years or so - is a tour de force. She is an accomplished author who has many other achievements to her name besides these war histories. She has produced biographies, poetry, paintings and literary criticism. She has explored the heights of religious experience and the depths of human degradation without ever, when describing either, losing either her lightness of touch or her rapport with the reader. 

Her insight is phenomenal, her mind is sharp and her clear-sighted memory of most of the past century has a great deal to say to us. I unreservedly recommend this book. 

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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