R. J. Minney website: http://minney.org.uk/rjminney.htm
Rubeigh James “RJ” Minney (1895-1979), a kindly, knowledgeable and experienced author, playwright and film producer, who started his career as a journalist, editing for ten years the enormously successful ‘Everybody’s Weekly’. At various times he was editor of Sunday Referee, The Era, The War and Strand Magazine. After the Sunday Referee, RJ joined Gainsborough Films, for whom he then produced several films including the classic period drama The Wicked Lady (1945) with a cast that included Margaret Lockwood, James Mason, Patricia Roc, Michael Rennie and Felix Aylmer.
While at Gainsborough he wrote both the book and play ‘Clive of India’, which ran for over a year in London and was later filmed. The Royal family unexpectedly arrived for the opening night of the play. On the same night RJ took a call from Daryl Zanuk, the legendary 1930’s impresario and film-maker, asking RJ to call at Claridges. In Zanuk’s suite the next day Zanuk invited RJ to Hollywood, RJ declined as he was due to leave for Russia to work on a biography on Rasputin, to which Zanuk reputedly responded; “Now Mr Minney sit down a minute, we haven’t talked about money yet.” The next day RJ left for Hollywood.
In Hollywood he produced many films, including; ‘Madonna of the Seven Moons’, ‘The Magic Bow’, and ‘A Place of One’s Own’. While in Hollywood RJ became friends with Charlie Chaplin and his family and later wrote a biography of Chaplin called ‘Chaplin, The Immortal Tramp’. He also wrote ‘Gentle Caesar’, a biography of Tsar Nicholas II, and ‘Carve Her Name With Pride’ about Violette Szabo, who was posthumously awarded the George Cross, and many other biographies.
At RJ Minney’s memorial service in 1979, Sir Harold Wilson read the lesson, Virginia McKenna read a poem from his book ‘Carve Her Name With Pride’, and Dulcie Gray gave the address.
Hook House was designed and built by Robert Hawken. Mr Hawken was known to enjoy a drink, and after a night in the pub in 1945 he fired an automatic pistol in the dining room in the general direction of his wife Betty – the bullett remains embedded in the panelling today.
Hook House was compulsory purchased in 1971 from only its second owners for £17,000 after the construction of the adjoining reservoir, it was let to Mr and Mrs Minney on a 32 year lease. Hook House is now likely to be lost beneath the water with plans to raise water levels at Bewl reservoir to supply future developments in Hastings.
The contents of the house have been consigned by RJ’s widow Hetty, his devoted companion for 35 years.
— James Braxton
(Source: R. J. Minney Website)