Maurice ROWDON was born into a London working class family in 1922, educated at Emanuel School in London, and took two degrees at Oxford, the first in Modern History (a ‘war degree’) and the other in Modern Greats at Keble College, specializing in Philosophy and the works of Immanuel Kant, with Economics and Politics as subsidiary subjects. At the age of 21 he was a Forward Observation Officer in the Italian campaign of World War II. After the war when he had taken his second degree he became a lecturer in English Literature at Baghdad University, Iraq where he wrote his first novel.
A journey to Naples had him leave academics and live in Italy, such was the impression Italians had made on him in the battle zones. He settled first in Rome and then on a working farm near San Gimignano Tuscany where he began publishing books on Italy and became an expert in Italian civilization.
Dissatisfied with occidental thought Maurice turned to the Orient and by 1960 he was practicing Hatha Yoga and daily pranayama or breath-discipline under the Indian guru Yevsudian in Switzerland. The teachings of Ramakrishna and other Indian mystics led him to further experiment with diverse meditation and breathing techniques including Leonard Orr’s Rebirth system. Gradually he pioneered his own breathing process that he called Oxygenesis and which he practiced both in Europe and then in Berkeley and San Francisco California for over eight years. Later he practiced as part of the medical director’s team at the Hale Clinic in London. His personal explorations and those of his hundreds of clients led him to many discoveries about the human nervous system and these became the basis of his later work.
Maurice published thirteen books on animal and human intelligence, travel, history and war, and with great prescience on the shape of human culture, past, present and future. His earliest works demonstrated a highly unconventional and brilliant thinker. At the age of fifteen he published his first poem, at the age of eighteen he was employed at Mass Observation upon a recommendation of Stephen Spender.
A writer of fiction and non-fiction as well as a prolific playwright and poet he has been called part-prophet and part-anthropologist for the radical and original theories espoused in his work during the last half of the twentieth century and which are now seen as accurate predictions of the extreme instability of the planet and of civilization today.
Throughout his productive and varied writing career he was published by Chatto and Windus, Heinemann, Victor Gollancz, Collins, Barrie and Rockcliff, Constable, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Macmillan, Praeger, St. Martin’s Press, Putnam, S. fischer Verlag. He was reviewed favorably by Cyril Connolly, The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Punch, The New Yorker, New Statesman, The Times Literary Supplement, The Daily Express, Sunday Telegraph.
Maurice divided his time in his last years between France and London where he lived with his wife, Dachiell, while he wrote and refined what he called his most ambitious work The Ape of Sorrows, From Stranger to Destroyer: The Inside Story of Humans.
In February 2009 he passed away, leaving extensive archives that are now in the process of being catalogued. To date, among his unpublished works, there are thirty-five plays, ten novels, two non-fictions, numerous travel books on Italy in the same vein as his acclaimed Roman Street and Italian Sketches, an extensive body of poetry including much concerning war and shock, a large body of short stories, articles, extensive notes and taped group discussions on his breathing therapy Oxygenesis.
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