Charles R. Jackson born 6 April 1903 (d. 1968)
Relatively little seems to be known about Charles R. Jackson considering he is the author of a well-known novel which is still in print, upon which a multi Oscar-winning film was based - The Lost Weekend.
Born in Summit, New Jersey, he graduated from Newark High School in 1921. As a young man he worked as an editor for local newspapers and in various bookstores in New Jersey, Chicago and New York prior to falling ill with tuberculosis. Jackson spent the years 1927-1931 in sanatoriums and eventually recovered in Switzerland. His successful battle cost him a lung and served as a catalyst for his alcoholism. He returned to New York at the height of the Great Depression and his difficulty in finding work spurred on his binge drinking. His battle to stop drinking started in late 1936 and was largely won by 1938, the year in which he married. During this time he was a free-lance writer and wrote radio scripts.
Jackson is best known for his 1944 novel The Lost Weekend. Made into a critically acclaimed film by Billy Wilder starring Ray Milland in 1945, The Lost Weekend is a seemingly semi-autobiographical novel detailing a struggling writer's five-day alcohol binge.
But it is Jackson's second novel that is interesting. In 1946, he published The Fall of Valor, a novel exploring a married man's growing awareness of his homosexuality and his love for a young Marine captain. Jackson was married and appears to have had two daughters, but this novel, which pre-dates Gore Vidal's explosive and significant The City & the Pillar (1948), has an emotional centre which 'seems unlikely to be the work of an outsider' - Joseph Cady. The novel ends with violence, but that is typical of gay fiction at that time. Long out of print, I bought a 1974 edition sometime in the early 1980s. This is a significant 'lost' gay novel of the 20th century, although it appears to have been a critical and financial success at the time.
Jackson wrote at least three further novels and a book of short stories, but never equalled the success or critical acclaim of The Lost Weekend.
He was a binge drinker who recovered sufficiently to speak to others in large groups, sharing his experience, strength and hope. He was the first speaker in AA to openly address drug dependence (barbiturates and paraldehyde) as part of his story.
Jackson appears to have spent much of his life battling the twin demons of alcohol dependency and a homosexual nature he struggled to accept, and his intense, compelling description of homoeroticism and sexual obsession in The Fall of Valor has the authenticity of a first person narrative.
He died in New York in 1968 after committing suicide, never having managed to defeat his alcoholism.
Biography of Charles R. Jackson - IMDb
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