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J. I. M. Stewart
Prof John Innes Mackintosh Stewart HFRSE DLitt (30 September 1906 – 12 November 1994) was a Scottish novelist and academic. He is equally well known for the works of literary criticism and contemporary novels published under his real name and for the crime fiction published under the pseudonym of Michael Innes. Many devotees of the Innes books were unaware of his other "identity", and vice versa.
Stewart was born in Edinburgh, the son of Elizabeth (Eliza) Jane (née Clark) and John Stewart of Nairn. His father was a lawyer and later the Director of Education for the City of Edinburgh.
Stewart was educated at Edinburgh Academy from 1913 to 1924 and then studied English literature at Oriel College, Oxford, graduating BA in 1928. At Oxford he was presented with the Matthew Arnold Memorial Prize and was named a Bishop Frazer's scholar. Using this, in 1929 he went to Vienna to study psychoanalysis. He was lecturer in English at the University of Leeds from 1930 to 1935 and then became Jury Professor of English in the University of Adelaide, South Australia.
In 1932 he married Margaret Hardwick (d.1979).
He returned to the United Kingdom to become Lecturer in English at the Queen's University of Belfast from 1946 to 1948. In 1949 he became a Student (equivalent of Fellow in other Oxford colleges) of Christ Church, Oxford. By the time of his retirement in 1973, he was a professor of the university.
In 1990 he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
He died at Coulsdon in south London on 12 November 1994.
Between 1936 and 1986, Stewart, writing under the pseudonym of Michael Innes, published nearly fifty crime novels and short story collections, which he later described as "entertainments". These abound in literary allusions and in what critics have variously described as "mischievous wit", "exuberant fancy" and a "tongue-in-cheek propensity" for intriguing turns of phrase. Julian Symons identified Innes as one of the "farceurs"—crime writers for whom the detective story was "an over-civilized joke with a frivolity which makes it a literary conversation piece with detection taking place on the side"—and described Innes's writing as being "rather in the manner of Peacock strained through or distorted by Aldous Huxley". His mysteries have also been described as combining "the elliptical introspection ... [of] a Jamesian character's speech, the intellectual precision of a Conradian description, and the amazing coincidences that mark any one of Hardy's plots".
The best-known of Innes's detective creations is Sir John Appleby, who is introduced in Death at the President's Lodging, in which he is a Detective Inspector at Scotland Yard. Appleby features in many of the later novels and short stories, in the course of which he rises to become Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Other novels feature portrait painter and Royal Academician, Charles Honeybath, an amateur but nonetheless effective sleuth. The two detectives meet in Appleby and Honeybath. Some of the later stories feature Appleby's son Bobby as sleuth.
In 2007, his family transferred all the Innes copyrights and other legal rights to Owatonna Media. Owatonna Media on-sold these copyrights to Coolabi Plc in 2009, but retained a master licence in radio and audio rights. Literary rights are currently held by John Stewart Literary Management, and published by House of Stratus.
Stewart wrote several critical studies, including full-length studies of James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Love Peacock and Thomas Hardy, as well as many novels and short stories. His last publication was his autobiography Myself and Michael Innes (1987).
As J. I. M. Stewart
As Michael Innes
John Appleby series
Short story collections
Christmas at Candleshoe was the basis for the 1977 film Candleshoe starring Jodie Foster, Helen Hayes and David Niven.