GERALD HUGH TYRWHITT-WILSON, 14th Baron Berners born (d: 1950), also known as Gerald Tyrwhitt, a British composer of classical music, novelist, painter, & aesthete. Berners was notorious for his “eccentricity,” e.g. dyeing pigeons at his house in Faringdon in vibrant colors and at one point having a giraffe as a pet and tea companion. Berners’ musical works included Trois morceaux, Fantasie espagnole, Fugue in C minor, and several ballets, including The Triumph of Neptune (based on a story by Sacheverell Sitwell) and Luna Park.
In later years he composed several songs and film scores, notably for the 1946 film of Nicholas Nickleby. His friends included the composers Constant Lambert and William Walton and he worked with Frederick Ashton; Walton dedicated Belshazzar’s Feast to Berners.
He bequeathed his estate to his companion Robert (‘Boy’) Heber Percy, who lived at Faringdon until his own death in 1987. Berners obtained some notoriety for his roman-à-clef The Girls of Radcliff Hall, (punning on the name of the famous lesbian writer), in which he depicts himself and his circle of friends, such as Cecil Beaton and Oliver Messel, as members of a girls school. This frivolous satire, which was published and distributed privately, had a modish success in the 1930s. The original edition is rare; rumor has it that Beaton was responsible for gathering most of the already scarce copies of the book and destroying them. However, the book was reprinted in 2000.