James Clavell (October 10, 1924 – 7 September 1994) was a novelist and screenwriter famous for his novel Shogun, Tai-pan and ‘The King of the rats’, as well as the film the great escape.


He was born in Sydney, Australia (some sources cite was born in the United Kingdom and he was taken to Australia at a young age), was christened clavelle Charles edmund dumaresq.

His father was an officer of the Royal Navy by what was educated at different places in the world.

In 1940 at the age of 16 he joined the British Royal artillery and was sent to Malaysia to fight against the Japanese. He was wounded by machine gun, captured and sent to a Japanese prison camp on the Island of Java. He was later transferred to Changi in Singapore prison.

Like most prisoners of war, he suffered ill-treatment of his Japanese captors while most guards were Korean. His experiences in these fields were the basis of his first novel, King rat El, published in 1962. However all these bad experiences not interfered to write about Japanese culture in his novel Shogun.

By 1946 he achieved the rank of Captain, but a motorcycle accident ended his military career. He entered the University of Birmingham where he met April Stride, an actress, which married in 1951. It was introduced in the film industry and developed an interest in becoming a director. He moved with his family to New York in 1953, where he worked in television and then in Hollywood.

Eventually gained fame as a writer with his films as La Mosca and Watusi. It was co-writer of the classic film the great escape (the great Escape), won great reputation in Hollywood. By 1959 he produced and directed his films.

1963 Naturalized citizen of the United States.

He died of a heart attack while fighting cancer in Switzerland in 1994, a month before his 70th birthday.



* The fly (1958) (writer)

* Watusi (1959) (writer)

* Five gates to hell (1959) (director and writer)

* Walk like a dragon (1960) (writer and director)

* The great escape (1963) (co-writer)

* 633 Squadron (1964) (co-writer)

* The bug of Satan (1965) (co-writer)

* The master with love (1966) (writer and director)

* The sweet and bitter (1967) (writer and director)

* Where is Jack? (1968) (director)

* The last Valley (1970) (writer and director)

* Shogun miniseries (1980)

* La Casa Noble mini-series (1988)

tai-Pan and King of the rats have been adapted to film while Clavell was not involved in the script.


‘The Asian Saga’

* The rat King (1962): History in a Japanese POW camp in 1945.

* Tai-Pan (1966): Emergence of Hong Kong, 1841.

* Shogun (1975): The feudal Japan of the 17TH century.

* The Noble House (1981): Hong Kong in 1963.

* Whirlwind (1986): Set in Iran in 1979.

* Gai-Jin (1993): Set in Japan in 1862.

Up to year 2006 whirlwind and gai-jin are the only novels Clavell have not been adapted to the movies or mini-series.

Other books

* The history of children (1980)

* The art of war: translation of the famous book by sun tzu (1983)

* Thrump O Moto (1986)

* Exhaust (1994): Novel Vortex saga