Alms for Oblivion is a series of ten vels, all telling separate stories but at the same time linked together by the characters they have in common: schoolboys and businessmen, writers and soldiers, prostitutes and patient wives, actresses and models. In the first four vels Raven's wayward band of upper-class anti-heroes lurch from debauched parties to rehearsals for nuclear war; from blackmail to murder; from marriage to adultery and back again. Volume 1 includes: The Rich Pay Late , Friends in Low Places , The Sabre Squadron , and Fielding Gray .
Author Simon Raven was perhaps known as much for his controversial behaviour as for his writing. He grew up reading and studying the classics, translating them from Greek and Latin into English and vice-versa. He was expelled from Charterhouse School in 1945 for homosexual activities, having first been seduced at the age of nine by the games master (an experience he described as giving 'immediate and unalloyed pleasure ) and went on to join the army. Following his National Service, Raven attended King's College, Cambridge to read English. Raven later returned to the army but was asked to resign rather than face a court-martial for 'conduct unbecoming.' It was at this point that he turned his focus to writing. The publisher Anthony Blond paid Raven to write and to move away from London to Deal, Kent. His works span a multitude of genres including fiction, drama, essays, memoirs and screenplays. Simon Raven died in May 2001, having written his own epitaph: He shared his bottle - and, when still young and appetising, his bed.