First published in 1978, Christmas Humphrey’s autobiography presents the fascinating history of a life rich and varied in both private and in public. Spanning seven decades it touches on many events of historical interest in which he was personally involved. Among them the abdication of Edward VIII, the Japanese War Trials and his time with the Dalai Lama after his flight from Tibet.
The author gives a graphic portrait of life behind the Bar and on the Bench – of what it is like to prosecute and to defend, and of the immense difficulties which face a judge when passing sentence. Here too are recollections of many famous cases of the twentieth century, and of the many murder trials in which he appeared as prosecuting counsel or judge.
Of equal interest is his fifty years’ of work in the field of English Buddhism. In 1924 he and his wife founded the Buddhist Society, which would become hugely influential in the spread of Buddhism throughout the West. Both Sides of the Circle is rich in humour and humanity. There is the joyful account of the author’s Edwardian Boyhood followed by the tragedy of his brother’s death in World War 1, which lead to the awakening of his interest in Buddhism and Theosophy. He speaks freely of his encounters with the Dalai Lama, with D.T. Suzuki, with Jung and with the Royal families of Thailand, Sikkim and Nepal, as well as his travels throughout the Europe and in the Orient.
Both sides of the Circle is more than autobiography – it is also a spiritual odyssey whose reissue will be of great interest to those who’ve enjoyed Christmas Humphreys’ other work and wish to know more about his brilliant career. It will also be very welcome to those wanted to learn about Buddhism in general, and the origins of English Buddhism in particular.
Table of Contents
1. Beginnings 2. Malvern and After 3. Cambridge 4. The Early Twenties 5. The Later Twenties 6. The Early Thirties 7. The English Bar 8. 1935-6 9. 1937-9 10. The Second World War 11. War Trials in Japan 12. Buddhist Work in Japan 13. The Long Journey Home 14. Interests Old and New 15. Reading and Writing 16. Senior Prosecuting Council 17. A Year of Destiny 18. Buddha Jayanti in Nepal and India 19. Silk, and Unorthodox Medicine 20. To India for the Dalai Lama 21. Reconstruction, Sarnath and Sikkim 22. Thailand and the Journey Home 23. An Old Bailey Judge 24. The End of a Cycle 25. Towards the Centre