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Famous Like Me > Writer > B > Ernest Borneman

Profile of Ernest Borneman on Famous Like Me

Name: Ernest Borneman  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 12th April 1915
Place of Birth: Berlin, Germany
Profession: Writer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Ernst Wilhelm Julius Bornemann (April 12, 1915 – June 4, 1995) was a German crime writer, filmmaker, anthropologist, ethnomusicologist, jazz musician, jazz critic, psychoanalyst, sexologist, and committed socialist. All these diverse interests, he claimed, had a common root in his lifelong insatiable curiosity.

Born and raised in Berlin—back then "one of the most relaxed, sane, open, cosmopolitan cities in the world"— as the son of "the happiest couple I have ever known", Borneman grew up in relative wealth and says he was "sexually mature at fourteen, politically mature at fifteen, [and] intellectually mature between fourteen and sixteen". As a pupil he made the acquaintance of Bertolt Brecht and also worked at the counselling centre for workers established by Wilhelm Reich's Socialist Association for Sexual Counselling and Research, an organisation the latter had removed from Vienna to Berlin in 1930.

Another important influence in Borneman's early life was music, especially from overseas. As a ten-year-old, at the world's fair in Paris, France, he had seen musicians from Congo who had fascinated him. He went to concerts in his native Berlin as soon as they would let him in, listening, among others, to Marlene Dietrich, the Weintraub Syncopators and jazz saxophonist Sidney Bechet. A distant relative, the ethnomusicologist Erich von Hornbostel, introduced him to his field of study, and after school Borneman attended Hornbostel's lectures and on weekends helped out in his archive. It was Hornbostel who finally initiated Borneman into the world of jazz.

A member of the Communist Party of Germany, Bornemann was forced to leave the country in 1933, after the Nazis had come to power. He was smuggled out of the country posing as a member of the Hitler Youth on his way to England as an exchange student. On arriving in England, where he sought, and was granted, political asylum, he anglicized his first name to Ernest and, by dropping the second n, his family name to Borneman. At the time he hardly spoke one word of English.

A quick learner, Borneman did not just pick up enough English to be able to survive but also to live by his pen. In 1937, Gollancz published Borneman's "detective story to end detective stories" (Julian Symons), a novel entitled The Face on the Cutting-Room Floor, which he had completed before turning twenty. In all, until 1968, Borneman wrote six crime novels, all of them in English.

During his London years Borneman was preoccupied with jazz, both theoretically and practically. He went to all concerts of famous musicians touring Britain such as Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway. He played the piano, double bass and drums himself and even went to sea playing in dance bands on transatlantic cruise ships. At home in London, he spent countless hours in the British Museum Reading Room and at other institutions of learning. His notes on the origins and the development of jazz grew steadily, and in 1940 he sent the first version of his study, a 580 page typescript entitled "Swing Music. An Encyclopaedia of Jazz" to Melville J. Herskovits, then the most prominent U.S. anthropologist specializing in African American studies.

During the final decades of his life Borneman lived in Scharten, Upper Austria. On learning about Borneman's assertion that there had been a marked decline in sexual activity among German couples, fellow sexologist Ingelore Ebberfeld sarcastically remarked that Borneman may have been jumping to conclusions and talking about his own sex life rather than that of his compatriots. Ebberfeld pointed out that in old age Borneman had married again—"a young, sexually potent wife" ("the biggest mistake an elderly man can make") whom, she insinuated, Borneman may find difficult to satisfy.

When Borneman committed suicide in 1995, shortly after his 80th birthday, it was rumoured that impotence may actually have been at least one of his reasons for killing himself.


  • The Face on the Cutting-Room Floor (1937)
  • "Swing Music. An Encyclopaedia of Jazz" (unpublished typescript, 580pp., 1940)
  • A Critic Looks at Jazz (1946; collected criticism from his column in the jazz periodical The Record Changer, "An Anthropologist Looks at Jazz"; the only jazz book ever published by Borneman)
  • Tremolo (1948; his third novel, filmed in 1950 by Yul Brynner for CBS)
  • Face the Music (a trumpet player is suspected of murdering a blues singer and finds poison on his mouthpiece; Borneman also wrote the screenplay for the 1954 British movie adaptation of the same title directed by Terence Fisher, aka The Black Glove in the U.S.A.)
  • Bang, You're Dead (screenplay, co-written with Guy Elmes for the 1954 British movie directed by Lance Comfort)
  • Four O'Clock in the Morning Blues (jazz opera for the BBC, with music by Malcolm Rayment, 1954)
  • The Compromisers (novel, 1962)
  • Tomorrow Is Now (novel)
  • The Long Duel (adaptation for the film by Ken Annakin, 1967)
  • The Man Who Loved Women (aka Landscape with Nudes) (1968; his last novel)
  • Lexikon der Liebe und Erotik (1968)
  • Psychoanalyse des Geldes. Eine kritische Untersuchung psychoanalytischer Geldtheorien (1973)
  • Studien zu Befreiung des Kindes, 3 vols. (1973)
  • Der obszöne Wortschatz der Deutschen—Sex im Volksmund (1974)
  • Das Patriarchat. Ursprung und Zukunft unseres Gesellschaftssystems (1975)
  • Die Ur-Szene. Eine Selbstanalyse (autobiographical, 1977)
  • Reifungsphasen der Kindheit. Sexuelle Entwicklungspsychologie (1981)
  • Die Welt der Erwachsenen in den verbotenen Reimen deutschsprachiger Stadtkinder (1982)
  • Rot-weiß-rote Herzen. Das Liebes-, Ehe- und Geschlechtsleben der Alpenrepublik (1984)
  • Das Geschlechtsleben des Kindes. Beiträge zur Kinderanalyse und Sexualpädologie (1985)
  • Die neue Eifersucht. Starke Männer zeigen Schwäche: Sie werden eifersüchtig (1986)
  • Ullstein Enzyklopädie der Sexualität (1990)
  • Sexuelle Marktwirtschaft. Vom Waren- und Geschlechtsverkehr in der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft (1992)
  • Die Zukunft der Liebe (2001) (his last book)

Borneman was also a scriptwriter for the British TV series The Adventures of Aggie (1956) about the adventures of a fashion designer on international assignments.

Borneman directed the 20 minute Canadian documentary Northland (1942) and also the 15 minute documentary written by Leslie McFarlane, Target: Berlin (Objectif Berlin) (1944).

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Ernest Borneman