Robert Kee

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Robert Kee CBE
Born (1919-10-05)5 October 1919
Calcutta, British India
Died 11 January 2013(2013-01-11) (aged 93)
Nationality British
Education Stowe School, Magdalen College, Oxford
Occupation Journalist, news and TV presenter and author
Employer BBC, ITV, Channel 4
Spouse(s) Janetta Woolley (1948–1950; divorced)
Cynthia Judah (1960–1989; divorced)
Catherine Trevelyan (1990–2013; his death)
Children 3 (1 deceased)

Robert Kee, CBE (5 October 1919 – 11 January 2013)[1] was a British broadcaster, journalist and writer, known for his historical works on World War II and Ireland.

Life and career

He was educated at Stowe School, Buckingham, and read history at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was a pupil, then a friend, of the historian A.J.P. Taylor.

During World War II he served in the Royal Air Force as a bomber pilot. His Hampden was shot down by flak one night while on a mine-laying operation off the coast of German-occupied Holland. He was imprisoned and spent three years in a German POW camp. This gave him material for his first book A Crowd Is Not Company. It was first published as a novel in 1947 but was later revealed to be an autobiography. It recounts his experiences as a prisoner of war and his various escapes from the Nazi camp. The Times describes it as "arguably the best POW book ever written."

His career in journalism began immediately after the Second World War. He worked for the Picture Post, then later became a special correspondent for The Sunday Times and The Observer. He was also literary editor of The Spectator. In 1949 Kee was a witness at the marriage of his friend George Orwell to Sonia Brownell.

In 1958 he moved to television. He appeared for many years on both the BBC and ITV as reporter, interviewer and presenter. He presented many current affairs programmes including Panorama, ITN's First Report and Channel 4's Seven Days. He was awarded the BAFTA Richard Dimbleby Award in 1976.

Kee wrote and presented the documentary series Ireland – A Television History in 1980. The work was widely shown both in the United Kingdom and the United States and received great critical acclaim, winning the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize. Following the series' transmission on RTÉ, the Irish national broadcaster, Kee won a Jacob's Award for his script and presentation.[2]

He was involved in the launch of TV-am in 1983 as one of the "Famous Five", along with David Frost, Anna Ford, Michael Parkinson and Angela Rippon. He was also amongst those who successfully campaigned for the release of the Guildford Four, the Maguire Seven and the Birmingham Six.


  • A Crowd Is Not Company (1947) POW memoirs, issued as a novel first, reissued 1982
  • The Impossible Shore (1949) novel
  • Beyond Defeat by Hans Werner Richter (1950) translator
  • The Five Seasons by Karl Eska (1954) translator
  • A Sign Of The Times (1955) novel
  • Vorkuta A Dramatic First Report on the Slave City in the Soviet Arctic by Joseph Scholmer (1955)
  • Zero Eight Fifteen. The Strange Mutiny of Gunner Asch (1955)
  • The Sanity Inspectors by Friedrich Deich (1956) translator
  • Before the Great Snow by Hans Pump (1959) translator
  • Broadstrop In Season (1959) novel
  • The Betrayed by Michael Horbach (1959) translator
  • Refugee World (1961)
  • Officer Factory by Hans Hellmut Kirst (1962) translator
  • Forward, Gunner Asch! By Hans Hellmut Kirst (1964) translator
  • The Revolt of Gunner Asch (1964) translator
  • The Return of Gunner Asch (1967) translator
  • The Most Distressful Country (1972) The Green Flag vol.1
  • The Bold Fenian Men (1972) The Green Flag vol.2
  • Ourselves Alone (1972) The Green Flag vol.3
  • Ireland: A History (1980)
  • 1939: The Year We Left Behind (1984) as 1939: In the Shadow of the War (US)
  • We'll Meet Again - Photographs of Daily Life in Britain During World War Two (1984) with Joanna Smith
  • 1945: The World We Fought For (1985)
  • A Journalist's Odyssey (1985) with Patrick O'Donovan and Hermione O'Donovan
  • Trial & Error: the Maguires, the Guildford pub bombings and British justice (1986)
  • Munich: The Eleventh Hour (1988)
  • The Picture Post Album: A 50th Anniversary Collection (1989)
  • The Laurel and the Ivy: The Story of Charles Stewart Parnell and Irish Nationalism (1993)
  • The Green Flag: A History of Irish Nationalism (2000) one-volume edition
  • Another Kind of Cinderella (1997) stories, with Angela Huth


  1. "Author Robert Kee dies aged 93". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-01-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Kee wins award for TV history of Ireland", The Irish Times, 11 April 1981

External links