A kindle edition of Come Back that Boy is freely available from Amazon


Peter Lloyd Jones’ childhood began in the 1930s. World War II brought evacuation and separation from a family finding its feet in London. His father came from a Rhondda mining family. He died unexpectedly at thirty-seven. His mother courageously held a devastated family together. A scholarship to Battersea Grammar School gave promise of a world in which people had `letters after their names’. A State Scholarship to study chemistry at Imperial College followed – a significant academic achievement in the early post-war years. Latter came a doctorate at King’s College, Cambridge – but painting was Peter Lloyd Jones’ true love. He is noted as a painter. He was also to become an influential teacher and theorist in design. This is an intimate account of an intellectual development that is set against the backdrop of a rapidly changing society. It is an authentic contribution to our collective history – the layers of class that once constrained lives are keenly observed. This autobiography is enlivened with a painter’s attention to detail. There is humour too, and wry observation. Immensely enjoyable.

Thomas Walters

Peter Lloyd Jones was born and brought up (if that is the right expression) on the other, less desirable side of the lines than I was. But we were both children of the 1940’s with memories just stretching back to the pre-war decade. Beyond the feel for the period, this autobiography is an enlivening tale of a difficult wartime childhood, encompassing loneliness (he was evacuated from the city for extended periods) and sadness (the early death of his father). There is also optimism, humour and an acute intelligence which opened horizons well beyond those offered by his home and grammar school. In particular, he found his way to the Battersea Men’s Institute and an art class in which he found lasting friendships with interested and supportive adults. But life as an artist remained a dream: a chemistry degree (Imperial College), a PhD (Cambridge, more chemistry) and a first marriage all had to be negotiated. The way forward was cleared only very slowly, but eventually he made to art school firstly as a student, then as a teacher. He became a painter and later on professor and head of the Department of Design at Kingston University.

For anyone born of the wartime era, indeed for anyone wishing to make a connection with that time, this wonderful autobiography is an essential read. It is an enthralling and self-revelatory tale born of an amazing memory for detail (and happily not weighed down with phoney psychological overtones). I couldn’t let it go and I shall go back to it again.

Bastien D Gomperts

Engrossed in Peter Lloyd Jones’s two books so far (Come Back That Boy and The Imagination’s Life), I’m looking forward to a third one I’ve heard is on its way. They are about himself, an ordinary boy growing up in wartime Battersea, getting into Imperial College, living off scientific research at Cambridge when first married, and gradually realising that he needed to be a painter after all. I like his character, his interest in everything, the neat way he manages to set down voluminous memories, and above all, I suppose, the account of much that was part of my own upbringing and my own sorties into adult life. His feelings kept grabbing at my own: for instance when he first heard Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro for Strings. I thoroughly recommend these absorbing books.

This memoir of growing up as a child evacuee during the bombing of London and beyond to college age is wonderfully personal, well written, and of particular interest to those who grew up safely in the United States at the same time. The detailed memory for bygone names, places, and details is impressive and the remarkable use of language explains to some degree why we Americans and even the Oxford English Dictionary have trouble keeping up with colloquial expression. The ways in which the author pursues his interest in jazz and art provide unusual glimpses into a life as it matures, constrained by circumstances, and by educational opportunities that while rewarding are not fulfilling. This memoir has the humanistic flavor of an interesting life. One hopes there will be a sequel as the author’s career in art supersedes one in science during a fascinating time that is not often written about with such style and detail.

CH Burnette

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