Major John Hay Beith (Ian Hay) (April 17, 1876 - September 22, 1952) from Edinburgh, Scotland was a soldier, novelist, and playwright. He was educated at Fettes College, Edinburgh and St. Johns College, Cambridge. He was a second-lieutenant in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and was in France in April of 1915 and was one of the first 100,000 of Kitchener's Army. He was awarded the Military Cross. He was Director of Public Relations at the War Office (1938-1941).
His work was well known for its wit; often quoted is this line from his play, Housemaster: "What do you mean, funny? Funny-peculiar or funny ha-ha?" From the same play, two characteristic Hay lines, from masters' reports on their pupils:
- ‘He can translate English into a Greek not spoken in Greece, and Greek into an English not spoken anywhere, with equal facility’
- ‘Despite his natural levity he habitually gravitates towards the bottom.’
The First Hundred Thousand (1916) is his best-known work, and is marked by the same sharp sense of humor as his other work: "War is hell, and all that, but it has a good deal to recommend it. It wipes out all the small nuisances of peace-time."
All In It K(1) Carries On: A Continuation of the First Hundred Thousand (1917) and Carrying On (1917) were also popular books of his. Other works include Tilly of Bloomsbury 1919, The Right Stuff, A Man's Man, A Safety Match, and Happy-Go-Lucky.
Beith served as Technical Advisor for Cecil B. DeMille's silent extravaganza, "The Little American" (1917), starring Mary Pickford, and wrote screenplays for several films, including Alfred Hitchcock's The Thirty-Nine Steps and Secret Agent.
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