Campbell, Michael Mussen (1924–84), 4th Baron Glenavy , author and journalist, was born 25 October 1924 in Dublin, second son of Charles Henry Gordon Campbell (qv) (1885–1963) and his wife Beatrice Moss Campbell (qv) (née Elvery). He was educated at St Columba's College, Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin, where – he was proud to recall – he once scored a century at cricket. His experiences at St Columba's are presented in somewhat lurid fashion in his novel Lord dismiss us (1967); although the public school in the novel is located in England, Campbell told friends such as Ulick O'Connor that it was based on St Columba's. After studying at TCD, Campbell was called to the Irish bar in 1947 but he never practised, to the dismay of his businesslike father, who was already disappointed at the career path chosen by his eldest child, Patrick (qv). Instead of pursuing the legal profession, Campbell stayed with his Aunt Haggie (who lived by periodically descending on Switzer's department store and charging large quantities of groceries to the account of her brother, who paid to avoid scandal) and her bohemian friends. Campbell was briefly a schoolmaster at Hampstead, London, then joined the London staff of the Irish Times, where during the late 1950s and early 1960s he wrote the ‘London letter’. Like his brother, he found employment with the Irish Times through his father's influence with its editor, R. M. Smyllie (qv). Thereafter he worked in publishing.
Campbell's first novel, Peter Perry (1956), was inspired by his aunt (the central character's name is Patricia but she is known to friends as ‘Peter’). The book was self-consciously outrageous: as well as spilling various family secrets, it depicted an affair between Peter and a character transparently based on Jimmy O'Dea (qv). It had to be withdrawn because of possible libel actions but was republished in 1970, alongside Nothing doing, a fantasia woven around the earlier novel's suppression and eventual acceptance, featuring various Campbell relatives in even more transparent and unflattering guise. His other books included Oh, Mary, this London (1959) and The princess in England (1964). Strong-minded and flamboyant female eccentrics are a recurrent theme; Campbell appears to have seen Patrick Dennis's humorous novel Auntie Mame (1955) as a model, and to have hoped (unavailingly) to replicate its success.
Across the water (1961) is of some interest as a ‘condition-of-Ireland’ novel and a portrayal of Dublin in 1960, but is two-dimensional in its characterisation. Its plot revolves around a proposal by a nouveau riche property developer of outspoken catholic and republican views to tear down an Anglo-Irish mansion on the outskirts of Dublin and replace it with a housing estate. The Anglo-Irish family are less than resistant to this scheme, as the mansion has become a financial drain; however, it is saved when the developer is involved in scandal over a previously built housing estate, where the properties turn out to be jerry-built. The novel features an ignorant and domineering parish priest (who laments the corrupting influence of British television but hopes that the Irish station about to be launched will prove more wholesome). There are bitter references to the new state's having merely substituted ‘new slums for old’ and developed a thought-suppression apparatus equal to that of Soviet Russia, and to the routine banishment of unmarried pregnant women to London via the Holyhead ferry. (Such women and other semi-lapsed catholic Irish characters feature in his novels of bohemian London.) Campbell's reasons for disaffection with mid-century Ireland apparently extended beyond Anglo-Irish superiority and intellectual liberalism. In Nothing doing the character identified with the author himself is represented as passionately homosexual and laments the suppression of his novel because it is the only sort of child he will ever have. Homosexuality is also a major theme of Lord dismiss us.
After 1970 Campbell's literary output ceased because of severe alcoholism. Although he overcame this habit in the last years of his life he was unable to resume writing, and supported himself by working in a bookshop near Regent's Park in London owned by his companion, Michael Horden. In 1980 he inherited the family title after Patrick Campbell's death, becoming 4th Baron Glenavy. Campbell died at his home, 39 Kendal Street, Westminster, London, early in June 1984 at the age of fifty-nine. He was unmarried and on his death the Glenavy peerage and its associated baronetcy became extinct.