A blog for anyone with an interest in Polperro, publishing and people... with occasional musings on history and humanity.
Posted on July 26, 2013
One of the delights of publishing is that every now and then I come across a story so extraordinary and so beautifully written that it absolutely demands to be turned into a book. So when I first read Robert Henrey’s account of his experience as an eight-year-old child improbably chosen by film director Carol Reed and producer Sir Alexander Korda to star alongside Sir Ralph Richardson in The Fallen Idol, I just knew it was a story we had to publish.
Based on a Graham Greene story and released in 1948, the film was an instant box office success. The child star’s performance was singled out for critical acclaim and it remains one of the classics of British cinema. His brief film career over, Robert (or Bobby as he was then known), an only child brought up within an exclusively adult world by eccentric parents focused on their literary careers, was suddenly confronted with the rough and tumble of school life. Survival came at the cost of burying the experience, pretending – unsuccessfully – it had never happened: an attitude Robert carried into adulthood. The death of his 19-year-old daughter and an invitation to a special screening of The Fallen Idol in London in 2001 finally persuaded him to come to terms with his childhood experience. His book, Through Grown Up Eyes: Living with Childhood Fame is a remarkably moving and candid account of coping with childhood stardom in post-war London and the vicissitudes of later life in the USA, tragedy and loss.
It is ultimately about survival, treasuring the good things of life – and allowing hope to have the last word – and will be published in September.
Robert is now retired and lives with his wife in Greenwich, Connecticut USA, where he is an ordained deacon assigned to the parish church of Saint Catherine of Siena. He is modestly dismissive of his childhood experience, but only recently it was described as ‘The greatest unpolished child performance of all time’ by Mark Romanek, the producer of the 2010 film Never Let Me Go.