THOMAS BURNS OBE always known as Tom was a leading figure in Catholic literary London for over 50 years. His death last week sadly occurred a few months before his 90th birthday.
After education at Stonyhurst, he cut his publishing teeth working for Frank and Maisie Sliced, who, in the 1930's, founded the successful family firm of Sheed and Ward. In 1932 he became a director of The Tablet after its transference from hierarchical into lay control. His knowledge of Spanish he had been born in Valparaiso, Chile, in 1906 was a factor in his being appointed Press Attaché at the British Embassy in Madrid from 1940 to 1945. His surviving wife, Mabel, whom he met during this time was the daughter of the famous liberal politician of preFranco days. Dr Gregorio Marannon.
After the war,Tom became chairman of Burns and Oates during 20 prestigious but increasingly profitless years. The firm was eventually acquired by Countess de la Bedoyere, widow of the famous editor of the Catholic Herald.
From 1967 to 1984, Tom was the editor of The Tablet in succession to Douglas Woodruff. In sharp contrast to his predecessor, Tom took a robustly progressive editorial view of certain Church affairs, notably the controversial papal encyclical Huntanae Vitae. A familiar figure in the Garrick Club for over half a century, he was noted for his lively conversation and appreciation of good wine. He will be greatly missed by his many friends within and beyond the English Catholic world.