Caroline Alice (C. A.) Lejeune (1897–1973) was a British writer,
best known as the film critic of
The Observer from 1928 to 1960.
2 Journalism and other writing
5 External links
C. A. Lejeune was the youngest child in a large Victorian family that
resided at 10, Wilmslow Road, Withington, Manchester. Her father was a
Swiss cotton merchant who had come to
England after doing business in
Frankfurt. Her mother, Louisa, who was the daughter of the
Nonconformist minister Dr Alexander Maclaren, was a friend of C. P.
Scott and of Caroline Herford, who was Caroline's godmother and
Headmistress of Lady Barn House School, where Caroline received her
elementary education. She and four of her sisters (Franziska, Marion,
Juliet and Hélène) received their secondary education at Withington
Girls' School, of which their mother, Scott, and Caroline Herford were
among the founders.
After leaving school Caroline turned down the opportunity to go to the
University of Oxford
University of Oxford and went instead to the University of Manchester,
where she studied English language and literature.
Journalism and other writing
Partly through her mother's friendship with Scott Caroline found work
writing for the
Manchester Guardian (now The Guardian), initially as a
music critic. Her main interests were in Gilbert and Sullivan, Verdi,
and Puccini. However, she was increasingly excited by the new medium
of the cinema.
In 1921 she moved to London and in 1922 she began writing a column for
the paper called "The Week on the Screen". In 1925 she married Edward
Rolfe Thompson, later editor of John Bull, and moved to
Middlesex. In 1928 she left the
Manchester Guardian for The Observer
(which then had no connection with the Guardian group), where she
remained for the next 32 years, although she also contributed to
publications as diverse as
The New York Times
The New York Times and Farmers' Weekly. She
also wrote an early book on the subject of Cinema (1931), and her film
reviews are anthologised in Chestnuts in her Lap (1947) and
posthumously in The
C. A. Lejeune
Film Reader, edited by her son
Anthony Lejeune (1991).
In the post-war years she was also a television critic for a time, and
she also adapted books for the medium, writing scripts for the BBC's
Sherlock Holmes television series (1951), Clementina and The Three
C. A. Lejeune's film reviews have long been compared to those of Dilys
Powell, who wrote for The Sunday Times for much of the period when
Lejeune was writing for The Observer. Unlike Powell, Lejeune became
increasingly disillusioned by various trends in films and, shortly
after she had expressed her disgust at Michael Powell's film Peeping
Tom, she resigned from
The Observer following the release of Alfred
Hitchcock's Psycho in 1960. Subsequently she completed Angela
Thirkell's unfinished last novel, Three Score Years and Ten (1961) and
wrote an autobiography, Thank You for Having Me (1964).
C. A. Lejeune died at the age of 76 in 1973. She had been a resident
Pinner for more than 40 years.
Peter Sellers said of her that "her
kindness, her complete integrity, and her qualities as an observer and
a commentator have gained her the unqualified admiration of my
profession. She respects integrity in others and has no harsh word for
anyone whose honest efforts end in failure. Everything she has
written, I am sure, has come as much from her heart as her head, and
the high quality of her writing, and the standard of film-making she
encourages, have made her work a part of cinema history."
^ "The Founders of Withington Girls' School". Withington Girls'
School. Archived from the original on 2011-09-30. Retrieved
The Times Obituary, 2 April 1973
Lejeune, C. A. (1964) Thank You for Having Me. London: Hutchinson
C.A. Lejeune at the British
Film Institute's Screenonline
Caroline Lejeune at Women
Film Pioneers Project
ISNI: 0000 0001 1076 7668