3 Dec 1908

Balchin born in Potterne, Wiltshire


Starts at Dauntsey’s School

1 Nov 1927

Matriculates at Peterhouse, Cambridge

24 June 1930

Graduates with BA (Hons) in Natural Sciences

18 Aug 1930

Begins work for the National Institute of Industrial Psychology

Jan 1933

Launch of Black Magic chocolates, with which Balchin was heavily involved

21 Jan 1933

Balchin marries Elisabeth Evelyn Walshe


Publication of Balchin’s first two books: No Sky (a novel) and How To Run a Bassoon Factory (non-fiction)

16 Sept 1934

Birth of Prudence, Balchin’s first daughter

8 Feb 1935

Leaves NIIP to join Rowntree’s

19 Nov 1937

Birth of Penelope, Balchin’s second daughter

Sept 1939

Joins Manufacturing Confectioners Alliance as Allocations Officer

July 1940

Joins Economics Division of Ministry of Food

2 Aug 1941

Joins the army’s Directorate of Selection of Personnel as a captain

9 Nov 1942

Publication of Darkness Falls from the Air, Balchin’s first genuinely successful novel

31 Dec 1942

Joins the army’s Directorate of Biological Research and is promoted to lieutenant-colonel

6 Dec 1943

Publication of The Small Back Room, Balchin’s most successful novel

9 Dec 1943

Transferred to the department of the Scientific Adviser to the Army Council

26 Dec 1944

Birth of Freja, Balchin’s third daughter

7 May 1945

Appointed Deputy Scientific Adviser to the Army Council with the rank of brigadier

Sept 1945

Publication of Mine Own Executioner, Balchin’s second most successful novel

21 Feb 1949

UK release of the famous Powell and Pressburger film of The Small Back Room

30 Mar 1951

Balchin divorces Elisabeth

June 1951

Publication of A Way Through the Wood, Balchin’s fictional response to the collapse of his marriage

5 Feb 1953

Balchin marries Yovanka Zorana Tomich

5 Sept 1955

Publication of The Fall of the Sparrow, Balchin’s last great novel

27 Dec 1955

Birth of Charles, Balchin’s first son

11 July 1957

Awarded BAFTA for ‘Best British Screenplay’ for his script for The Man Who Never Was


Writes three draft screenplays for the Richard Burton/Liz Taylor version of Cleopatra

24 May 1962

Birth of Cassandra, Balchin’s first daughter with Yovanka

Oct 1967

Publication of Kings of Infinite Space, Balchin’s final novel

17 May 1970

Balchin dies after a heart attack at the Greenaway Nursing Home in Hampstead

Apr 1974

Clive James writes long critical appraisal of Balchin in The New Review

Oct 2005

UK release of Separate Lies, Julian Fellowes’ film adaptation of A Way Through the Wood

Apr 2008

BBC Radio 4 broadcast ‘The Small Back Room Boy’, a documentary about Balchin

1 Sept 2015

Publication of His Own Executioner: The Life of Nigel Balchin by Derek Collett, the first biography of Balchin