Dr James Harding (1929 - 2007)

This is a website dedicated to the works of the late Dr James Harding.  It is aimed at students and those with an interest in the subject matters of Harding's biographies, as well as his many articles and other works.  

We hope you will enjoy exploring this website.  If you have any questions or would like further information on any of Harding's works, please contact us at contact@drjamesharding.co.uk and we will endeavour to help you.



If there is an event you think should be mentioned and isn't, please email contact@drjamesharding.co.uk.


In a literary career spanning nearly 40 years, James published 22 biographies, many of which are still standard references today. The majority of James' biographies centred around French composers, French theatre and British theatre. However, he also wrote biographies on Wellington, Rossini, General Boulanger, Léautaud and P. Ramlee, as well as a history of The Rocky Horror Picture Show from 1973 to 1987. His other works include a translation of Francis Poulenc's Moi et mes amis, an anthology of Lord Chesterfield's letters to his son, a regular column in the News of the World as Jane Dunbar, as well as various other articles in a range of publications. For information on these and all his other works, please follow the links to the relevant webpages on this website. If you cannot find what you are looking for, please email contact@drjamesharding.co.uk and we will endeavour to assist you.


Born in Bath, the younger of two sons, James attended Trowbridge Boys' High School before progressing to Bristol University to study French. The course included a stint at the Sorbonne in Paris. During the war, James did his national service in the RAF. Sadly, he lost the hearing in his left ear following the accidental detonation of a hand grenade during training. This put an end to James' hopes of becoming an actor after the war. Instead, James joined Clarks shoe company in Somerset as a copywriter, before graduating to various advertising agencies in London. It was in London James met his wife Gillian, whom he married in 1956, and they had two children Rupert and Lucy. In 1965, James published the first of his biographies "Saint-Saëns and his circle". Then, in 1969, James underwent a career change, moving to Woolwich Polytechnic (now Greenwich University) where he taught business French until 1994. James gained a doctorate at Birkbeck University with his thesis on the diarist Paul Léautaud; this would later be published as a biography. James Harding died on June 21 2007.