Henry Huford-Janes



1948, Beinecke Library…

Le site des archives de Yale comporte une Henry Hurford Janes-Josephine Baker Collection (letters, manuscripts, research notes, clippings, printed works, photographs, and miscellaneous materials gathered by Henry Hurford Janes which document his acquaintance with Josephine Baker between 1943 and 1975). Cette collection couvre les années 1926-1986, la majeure partie des documents concernant la période 1943-1975. 

« Henry Hurford Janes (known as Harry) was born in 1909 in Chelsea, England. Initially trained to be a private secretary, his penchant for writing was encouraged by the publication of his first article at the age of 20 which launched his career as a writer. In 1939, Janes joined the British Expeditionary Force as a private and was eventually promoted to be the personal assistant to the director of National Service Entertainment, Basil Dean. ENSA, the Entertainments National Service Association, which provided entertainment for British troops, similar to the American USO, took Janes to a number of battlefield locations.
He met Josephine Baker in 1943 in Algiers where, despite rumors about her demise, she was performing for Allied soldiers in Northern Africa. Janes began a long-lasting acquaintance with Miss Baker and began to negotiate for her to come to England for a performance for British troops. After two years of planning, the Gala Variety Concert featuring Baker and Noel Coward took place May 14, 1945 at the Cambridge Theatre in London.

After World War II, Janes took a position as secretary to a Member of Parliament, but soon left to pursue a full-time career as a freelance writer. He produced articles (for such publications as the Evening News) and short stories as well as plays. His Lady Must Sell debuted in 1948, followed by Under the Skin in 1953 and various scripts for BBC and ITV. He married his wife, Peggy, in 1954.

During the following decades, he specialized in commissioned industrial biographies and booklets on historical events. His friendship with Josephine Baker resumed during the late 1960s when Miss Baker began to tour again after a period of semi-retirement. Baker christened Janes and his wife the English "godparents" of her 12 adopted children. The Janeses quickly began to fulfill these roles by hosting many of Baker's children during summer vacations in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The youngest child, Stellina, was in the care of Harry and Peggy Janes, attending a convent school, when Baker died in April, 1975. Harry Janes initially questioned who should have custody over the young girl he and his wife had grown fond of, but soon deferred to Stellina's adoptive father, Jo Bouillon.
In the early 1970s, Harry Janes had started to gather notes about Joephine Baker's life and his interactions with her in preparation for a biography. He wrote several short biographical sketches, but a complete book was never published. »

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