In his autobiography he mentions in particular two aspects of his time there: These experiences formed what he called two "conflicting compulsions", soon to be joined by a third— left-wing politics —to shape the ruling passions of his life. In , when he was 13, Driberg left the Grange for Lancing College , the public school on the south coast where, after some initial bullying and humiliation,  he was befriended by fellow-pupil Evelyn Waugh.
Under Waugh's sponsorship Driberg joined an intellectual society, the Dilettanti, which promoted literary and artistic activities alongside political debate. He began to write poetry; his aesthetic education was further assisted by the charismatic J. Roxburgh , "a magnetically brilliant teacher" who later became headmaster of Stowe School. Finding the Labour Party too dull and respectable for his radical tastes, he joined the Brighton branch of the newly formed British Communist Party.
To avoid distressing the widowed Amy Driberg John Driberg had died in , the headmaster allowed him to remain in the school for the remainder of the term, stripped of his offices and segregated from all social contact with other boys. At the end of the term he was required to leave, on the pretext that he needed private tuition to pass his Oxford entrance examination which he had failed the previous summer.
Auden were leading lights. Driberg was soon immersed in a world of art, politics, poetry and parties: Eliot 's The Waste Land , which they read again and again, "with growing awe".
After her lecture he found an opportunity to recite one of his own poems, and was rewarded when Sitwell declared him "the hope of English poetry". During the General Strike of May , most Oxford students supported the government and enrolled as special constables and strike-breakers.
The Party showed no urgency to employ them, and Taylor soon left. Driberg, given a job distributing strike bulletins, was arrested by the police before he could begin and was detained for several hours. This ended his active role in the strike. He experienced sexual relations with only one don , whom he met outside the university, unaware of the latter's identity.
Driberg accepted an invitation to lunch with Crowley for the first of several meetings between them, at one of which Crowley nominated Driberg as his successor as World Teacher. Nothing came of the proposal, though the two continued to meet; Driberg received from Crowley manuscripts and books that he later sold for sizeable sums.
He failed his final examinations and, in the summer of , he left Oxford without a degree. After his submission of an article on London's nightlife, he was engaged in January for a six-week trial as a reporter;  coincidentally, Waugh had undergone an unsuccessful trial with the same newspaper a few months earlier.
Driberg's reports were generally abrasive, even mocking in tone, and drew complaints from Buchman's organisation about news bias. Driberg later defended his association with an inconsequential society column by arguing that his approach was satirical, and that he deliberately exaggerated the doings of the idle rich as a way of enraging working-class opinion and helping the Communist Party.
Sometimes he introduced more serious causes: Lawrence and Jacob Epstein , and the lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall , which had been denounced in the Express editorial columns as "infamous". He grew increasingly frustrated with the trivial nature of his work.
Artists, statesmen, airmen, writers, financiers, explorers The proprietor knew of Driberg's persistent mismanagement of his personal finances, and on various occasions helped out with loans and gifts.
Cassels, and two unimpeachable character witnesses were recruited by the defence. Driberg was acquitted, and Beaverbrook's influence ensured that the case went unreported by the press. Nine days later, after the German invasion of Poland precipitated the Second World War , he apologised for his mistake, and ended his first wartime column with the words "We're all in it".
An alternative explanation, proffered later, is that he was reported by Anthony Blunt for passing information on the Party to Maxwell Knight of MI5. Driberg and Knight were long-standing acquaintances who met frequently and, among other things, shared a mutual interest in the works of Aleister Crowley. With his share of her money and the help of a substantial mortgage, he bought and renovated Bradwell Lodge,  a country house in Bradwell-on-Sea on the Essex coast, where he lived and entertained until the house was requisitioned by the Royal Air Force RAF in This mood was reflected in a series of parliamentary by-elections in which candidates supporting the wartime coalition government were defeated by Independents — the major parties had agreed to a pact under which they would not contest by-elections in seats held by their respective parties.
Next day, Driberg requested three weeks' leave from his column to fight the by-election. Neil Ritchie centre, with pipe.
The surrender of Tobruk on 21 June after Ritchie's defeat at Gazala may have contributed to Driberg's by-election victory. Driberg's campaign slogan was "A Candid Friend For Churchill", personally supportive but critical of many of the prime minister's circle. The lacklustre campaign of his right-wing Conservative opponent helped to secure Driberg a wide range of support, from moderate Conservatives, Liberals and socialists.
His fame as "William Hickey", and his stance as the only candidate with a home in the constituency, gave him a strong local profile. His previous Communist Party associations were not revealed. At the poll, on 25 June, he overturned a previous Conservative majority of 8, to finish 6, votes ahead of his opponent.
The rebels' case was put incompetently, which ensured that the motion gained only 25 votes, as against cast for the government. He called for the lifting of the ban on the Communist Party's newspaper, the Daily Worker , which he saw as a potentially valuable weapon of home propaganda.
For example, on 29 September he asked the prime minister to "make friendly representations to the American military authorities asking them to instruct their men that the colour bar is not a custom in this country". In his own account of the incident Driberg records that he escaped arrest by identifying himself as "William Hickey" and as a member of parliament. These disclosures evidently overawed the constable, who took no further action; indeed, Driberg says, the incident began a chaste friendship with the officer that endured for more than ten years.
Driberg subsequently signed up with Reynolds News , a Sunday newspaper owned by the Co-operative Group , and undertook a regular parliamentary column for the New Statesman. He also contributed to a weekly BBC European Service broadcast until, in October , he was banned after government pressure.
He reported the post- D-Day allied advances in France and Belgium as a war correspondent for Reynolds News, and as a member of a parliamentary delegation witnessed the aftermath of the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp in April Attlee served as prime minister from to In the General election of July Driberg increased his majority at Maldon to 7, He was thus one of the Labour MPs in the landslide election victory that replaced Churchill as prime minister with Clement Attlee.
The Supreme Allied Commander, Lord Mountbatten , knew him slightly and made him an unofficial temporary special adviser. In this role he met the Patriotic Burmese Forces leader, Aung San , who impressed him as honest and incorruptible, "unlike some of the older Burmese politicians". Driberg later maintained that, had his offer been taken up, he might have prevented the Vietnam War. He participated in several night operations, and won respect from many of the soldiers for his courage despite, as one Marine put it "being a bit bent".
His general standing in the party was unaffected; he had been re-elected in absentia to the NEC in September Driberg was sympathetic to the rebels, though he tried to find a basis for compromise that would avoid resignations.
Morgan called a "backbench mindset". The press lord was amenable, and work began in the summer of A former Suffolk county councillor , she worked as an administrator at the Marie Curie Hospital in London and was well known in senior Labour circles; she had met Driberg in , at a weekend party given by the government minister George Strauss.
According to her son, she was fully aware of Driberg's sexual preferences, but looked forward to some political excitement, and "thought they could do a useful job as Mr. The bride entered the church to a chorale arranged from the Labour Party anthem " The Red Flag "; this was followed by a nuptial mass described by Driberg's biographer Francis Wheen as "outrageously ornate".
He continued his frequent travels and casual homosexual liaisons, and was hostile to her efforts to control or change any aspect of his life. In she wrote to him: Even after a final breach in , they remained legally married. Although Beaverbrook had initially promised no interference with the text, he changed his mind when he began to read Driberg's drafts.
In the course of a prolonged disagreement, Beaverbrook accused his biographer of being driven by "malice and hatred". The pair had emerged in Moscow in February , to give a brief press conference. Driberg had known Burgess in the s, and the two shared similar homosexual inclinations;  this acquaintance was sufficient to secure the Moscow interview. On his return home Driberg rapidly wrote a book from the interview material, the serial rights of which were sold to the Daily Mail.
Critics drew attention to the book's relatively sympathetic portrayal of Burgess; some believed the book had been vetted by the KGB, while others saw it as part of an MI5 plot to trap Burgess into revealing secret information for which he could be prosecuted should he ever return to Britain.
The group's dispatches, Papers from the Lamb, led to the foundation in of the Christian Socialist Movement. In , in the face of antagonism from trade union leaders repelled by his lifestyle, he became Labour Party chairman , a largely ceremonial role. Thus, in a visit to Moscow to interview space scientists, he obtained two meetings with Nikita Khrushchev. In the General Election of October , which delivered a seat majority to Harold Macmillan 's Conservative government, he won at Barking with a majority of exactly 12, On 2 March , in an amendment to a House of Commons motion, he had called for Great Britain to "regain the moral leadership of the world by taking an initiative On 29 May he urged that Britain not be a party to the renewal of nuclear tests,  and in a speech on 23 July he said: Even his strongest supporters acknowledged that he attended as few local events as possible.
He supported the lowering of the voting age to 18,  and the broadcasting of parliamentary debates;  he opposed increases to judges' salaries,  and the extension of Stansted Airport. He joined with Mikardo and other dissidents to form the "Tribune Group" , with the aim of promoting more left-wing policies. The group's influence lessened after March , when in another General Election Wilson increased his majority to In he met the Kray twins , prominent London gangland figures, and began a lengthy friendship with them and their associates.
While Driberg avoided publicity, Boothby was hounded by the press and forced to issue a series of denials. After the twins had been convicted of murder in , Driberg frequently lobbied the Home Office about their prison conditions, requesting that they be given more visits and allowed regular reunions. When Reynolds News, which had evolved into the Sunday Citizen, finally folded in , he became fully dependent on his parliamentary salary and casual journalism.
He had long considered selling Bradwell Lodge, preferably to the National Trust on a basis that would allow him to continue living there. However, the Trust required the property to be mortgage-free and endowed with a substantial fund to cover future repairs, neither of which terms could be arranged.
In the event the house remained unsold until Wilson refused, citing Driberg's age—at 65 he was beyond the retirement age for senior diplomats. He was returned for Barking with a comfortable though reduced majority; nationally, Wilson's government was defeated by Edward Heath 's Conservatives.
The sale of Bradwell Lodge to a private buyer removed his main burden of debt, and he rented a small flat in the Barbican development in the City of London. In February , at the age of 68, he retired from the House of Commons with the intention of writing his memoirs.
Boyle's exhaustive account of the Burgess—Maclean— Philby —Blunt circle mentioned Driberg as a friend of Burgess, "of much the same background, tastes and views", but made no allegations that he was part of any espionage ring.
According to ex-Labour MP Reginald Paget , not even the security services were "lunatic enough to recruit a man like Driberg", who was famously indiscreet and could never keep a secret. Wilson quotes Churchill commenting years before that "Tom Driberg is the sort of person who gives sodomy a bad name".