Kingsley Amis

Amis, Sir Kingsley

Sir Kingsley Amis (ā´mĬs), 1922–95, English novelist. He attended St. John's College, Oxford (B.A., 1949) and for some 20 years taught at Oxford, Swansea, and Cambridge and in the United States before he could afford to become a full-time writer. His first and best-known novel, Lucky Jim (1954), a brilliant comic satire on academic life, classified him as one of England's angry young men. His increasing cultural and social disillusionment together with his seething anger at English propriety, pretense, and snobbery, always well laced with a fine sense of comedy, is also apparent in such other novels as That Certain Feeling (1955) and Take a Girl like You (1960), and often edges into an angry misanthropy and sometimes even a savage misogyny in such later novels as Ending Up (1974), Jake's Thing (1978), Stanley and the Women (1985), The Old Devils (1986; Booker Prize), and The Russian Girl (1994). Of Amis's other works of fiction—he wrote more than 20 novels in all—The Anti-Death League (1966) and Colonel Sun: A James Bond Adventure (1968) are espionage novels, while The Green Man (1969) is a ghost story, Girl, 20 (1971) a comedy, and The Riverside Villas Murder (1973) a mystery. In addition to several volumes of poetry, Amis published numerous nonfiction works, including Socialism and the Intellectuals (1957), What Became of Jane Austen? (1970), and On Drink (1972). He was knighted in 1990.

See his Memoirs (1991); Z. Leader, ed., The Letters of Kingsley Amis (2000); biographies by P. Fussell (1994), E. Jacobs (1995), and Z. Leader (2007); G. Keulks, Father and Son: Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis, and the British Novel since 1950 (2003).



Amis's second wife, Elizabeth Jane Howard, 1923–2014, was also a novelist. The two were married from 1965 to 1983. Realistic and literate, her dozen novels include The Beautiful Visit (1950), After Julius (1965), Odd Girl Out (1971), Getting It Right (1982), and Falling (1999). She is best known for The Cazalet Chronicles, a partially autobiographical novel series that follows a wealthy British family from 1937 through World War II into the 1950s—The Light Years (1990), Marking Time (1991), Confusion (1993), Casting Off (1995), and All Change (2013). She also wrote short stories.

See her memoir, Slipstream (2002).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Kingsley Amis versus Vladimir Nabokov
Bruce, Donald.
Contemporary Review, Vol. 269, No. 1570, November 1996
New Poets of England and America
Donald Hall; Robert Pack; Louis Simpson.
Meridian Books, 1957
Librarian’s tip: Poems by Kingsley Amis begin on p. 13
The Columbia History of the British Novel
John J. Richetti; John Bender; Deirdre David; Michael Seidel.
Columbia University Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "The Reaction against Modernism: Amis, Snow, Wilson" begins on p. 895
Comic Transactions: Literature, Humor, and the Politics of Community in Twentieth-Century Britain
James F. English.
Cornell University Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Four "Barbarism as Culturism: Lucky Jim and the Politics of the Campus Novel"
Postwar Academic Fiction: Satire, Ethics, Community
Kenneth Womack.
Palgrave, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Negotiating the University Community: Lucky Jim and the Politics of Academe"
Equivocal Spirits: Alcoholism and Drinking in Twentieth-Century Literature
Thomas B. Gilmore.
University of North Carolina Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Eight "Jim, Jake, and Gordon: Alcohol and Comedy"
Classic Cult Fiction: A Companion to Popular Cult Literature
Thomas Reed Whissen.
Greenwood Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Criticism of "Lucky Jim" begins on p. 159
Authors
Karl Miller.
Clarendon Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. X "Kingsley and the Women"
Rule and Energy: Trends in British Poetry since the Second World War
John Press.
Oxford University Press, 1963
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Kingsley Amis begins on p. 92
Contemporary British Novelists
Charles Shapiro.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1965
Librarian’s tip: "Kinglsey Amis" begins on p. 3
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