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JOHN GALSWORTHY (1867-1933)

The following biography was originally published in The British and American Drama of Today. Barrett H. Clark. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915. pp. 128-9.

John Galsworthy was born at Coombe, Surrey, in 1867. He received his education first at Harrow, then at Oxford, from which he was graduated in 1889. His first intention was to practice law, and in 1890 he was called to the bar. He says: "I read in various chambers, practiced almost not at all, and disliked my profession thoroughly." Being in a position to do so, he began to travel, and visited a number of countries in all parts of the world. Some time later he began to turn his attention to writing, and in 1899 printed his first work, the novel Jocelyn. This was followed by a short novel and a volume of short stories. Before the production of his first play he wrote four other novels; some of them -- The Country House and The Man of Property, for instance -- must surely take rank among the finest literary achievements of the age. [After] 1906, the date of The Silver Box, Galsworthy produced in turn collections of essays, stories, novels, plays, and poems.

Galsworthy is one of the sincerest and most straightforward of writers; literary, in the best sense of the word, clear, simple, and direct, he never fails to impress his readers and his audience with the meaning and importance of the play or novel under consideration. He is humanitarian in the broadest sense of the word: he is more than a socialist or a reformer, he is a sympathetic artist. In his plays he assumes so fair an attitude toward his characters and his audience that he at times almost fails to convince; in his dramatic style his reticence is occasionally so great that he incurs the danger of under-emphasis. Galsworthy is so sensitive that he perhaps over-estimates the sensitiveness of his audience. He is altogether one of the finest intellects and dramatic forces of the English stage [of his time. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1932 and passed away one year later.]


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