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Garman was born in 1903, one of nine children born to a GP and his wife, Dr Walter and Marjorie Garman of Wednesbury, Staffordshire, who produced this family between 1901 and 1916. His sisters achieved notoriety by their many Bloomsbury liaisons. He had been at Caius College, Cambridge, and seems to have acquired sympathies with the Communist Party there. He spent the 1920s between London and Paris, and was in Leningrad in 1926. With Edgell Rickword, he edited and wrote for a journal, `The Calendar of Modern Letters’, which briefly appeared from March 1925 as a monthly literary review. He published 'The Jaded Hero' in 1927.
Garman was Education Organiser of the Communist Party from 1934-47, some sources say 1940 to 1950. He ran summer schools at Swanage and was involved in the South Wales Hunger March of 1936, which he reported on behalf of the Daily Worker.
His sister, Lorna, married Ernest Wishart, a Cambridge friend of Douglas. A wealthy many, Ernest was also a committed Communist Party member and his firm, Lawrence and Wishart, became the party’s publishing house. From 1930-1940, Douglas Garman worked for the publishers Lawrence and Wishart, including a period as editor of `The Modern Quarterly’ and was involved in setting up the 'Marxist Historians' Group' in September 1938.
Douglas Garman was involved for a while with the celebrated art collector and bohemian bon vivant Peggy Guggenheim. He demanded that she prove her love by joining the Communist Party. The Party, however, refused to give her a card because she was not a worker. Only when she convinced the Communists that motherhood was unpaid full-time work did she officially become a Communist. But she had no real interest in politics and dropped her Party membership as soon as she broke up with Garman in 1937.
Douglas Garman retired to a farm in Dorset, where he continued to write and translate. He remained a member of the Communist Party until his death in 1969.