Galsworthy, John

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Galsworthy, John

John Galsworthy (gôlz´wûrŧħē, gălz´–), 1867–1933, English novelist and dramatist. Winner of the 1932 Nobel Prize in Literature, he is best remembered for his series of novels tracing the history of the wealthy Forsyte family from the 1880s to the 1920s. Of an old and rich family, Galsworthy spent his youth in relative leisure, studied at Oxford, was called to the bar in 1890, and in 1894 began a period of extensive travel. After the publication of his first novel, Jocelyn (1898), he devoted himself entirely to writing. The bulk of his fiction deals with the fortunes of the Forsytes, an upper-middle-class family—complacent, acquisitive, snobbish, and ruled by money. His attitude toward them was not unsympathetic, and he created several memorable characters, notably Soames Forsyte, "the man of property," who treats even his wife as a possession. The Forsyte novels are grouped in three trilogies. The first of these, The Forsyte Saga (1922), includes The Man of Property (1906), In Chancery (1920), and To Let (1921). The second trilogy, A Modern Comedy (1928), includes The White Monkey (1924), The Silver Spoon (1926), and Swan Song (1928). The third group, End of the Chapter (1934), includes Maid in Waiting (1931), Flowering Wilderness (1932), and One More River (1933). Galsworthy also wrote a series of dramas concerned with various social problems. Although their impartiality makes them less than exciting, the plays were remarkably successful. They include The Silver Box (1906), Strife (1909), Justice (1910), The Pigeon (1912), The Skin Game (1920), Loyalties (1922), and Escape (1926).

See his Life and Letters by H. V. Marrot (1935, repr. 1973); his letters to E. Garnett (1934); biographies by R. H. Mottram (1956) and R. Sauter (1967); studies by A. Frechet (tr. 1982) and J. Gindin (1979 and 1987); bibliography by H. V. Marrot (1928, repr. 1973).

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