John Galsworthy

John Galsworthy

John Galsworthy

John Galsworthy

Excerpt

JOHN GALSWORTHY was born in August 1867, and died in January 1933 at the age of sixty-five. His life therefore falls evenly divided on each side of those crucial moments in history, 1897-1901, that included the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, the War in South Africa, the death of the old Queen, the mounting of a wave of social reform. It was a time when the glance of thoughtful Englishmen turned from remote expansion overseas (the gold discoveries in the Rand) towards social legislation at home ( Lloyd George's 'People's Budget' of 1910 looming if yet undefined). Nearly the whole of Galsworthy's active writing career, and the whole of his public fame belonged to the second half of his life.

So much for his date. What do his heredity and environment show, for those who believe in the importance of such circumstances?

He was born in a villa called ' Parkfield' at Kingston Hill, and died at Grove Lodge, Hampstead. Does this make him a Londoner? No, he was something much larger. He was an Englishman, in the most literal sense. There was not one drop of Scottish, Welsh, or Irish blood in him. He felt this to be so vital that almost the only time he broke through his rigorous reserve on personal matters was when he was described in a review of one of his books as an Irishman and wrote to The Times to deny the statement. Those who knew him will realize how moved he must have been to do such a thing. The fact will be seen in all its importance when we come to place him among his contemporaries. The Galsworthys came from Wembury in Devon. Little as he indulged in dialect and local patriotism, he occasionally admitted a certain satisfaction in that fact, and lived much of his working life in that county, and made it the scene of some narratives. The more ironic quality of his ancestry is that his father might be described by the hasty as nouveau . . .

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