John Galsworthy

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Galsworthy, John

(gôlz`wûrthē, 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).

Galsworthy, John


Born Aug. 14, 1867, in London; died Jan. 31, 1933, in London. English writer. Son of a lawyer.

Galsworthy graduated from Oxford University. He began his literary activity as a neoromantic (the collection From the Four Winds, 1897; the novels Jocelyn, 1898, and Villa Rubein, 1900). Galsworthy’s novel The Island Pharisees (1904) marked the beginning of a series of social novels of everyday life: The Country House (1907), Fraternity (1909), The Patrician (1911), and The Freelands (1915). The Dark Flower (1913) subtly reveals intimate feelings. Galsworthy also created plays with sharp social conflicts, including The Silver Box (1906; published 1909), Strife (1909), and Justice (1910).

Later, Galsworthy conceived the idea for the creation of a cycle about the fate of a bourgeois family, the Forsytes. The short story “The Salvation of Swithin Forsyte” (1901), which was the embryo of the cycle, was followed by the novel The Man of Property (1906), a realistic picture of bourgeois morals of the so-called Victorian period. The novel’s criticism of bourgeois family relationships developed into a condemnation of the entire propertied world. After the interlude “Indian Summer of a Forsyte” (1918), Galsworthy wrote the novels In Chancery (1920) and To Let (1921), which with The Man of Property and the interlude “Awakening” (1920), form the trilogy The Forsyte Saga (1922). A second trilogy about the Forsytes, A Modern Comedy, followed. It consisted of the novels The White Monkey (1924), The Silver Spoon (1926), and Swan Song (1928). He also published two Forsyte interludes, “Idylls” (1927) and “Meetings” (1927). The collection of stories, On Forsyte ’Change (1930) was related to this cycle. Individual members of the Forsyte family also appear in a third trilogy by Galsworthy, End of the Chapter, consisting of the novels Maid in Waiting (1931), Flowering Wilderness (1932), and One More River (1933).

After World War I (1914–18), Galsworthy wrote several dramas, including The Skin Game (1920) and Loyalties (1922). Although Galsworthy’s viewpoint was limited by his faith in the stability of the bourgeois system, his faithfulness to realism resulted in the creation of a panorama that correctly reflected the gradual decline of the English bourgeoisie. In the prewar period Galsworthy primarily criticized the plundering egoism of the Forsytes, but after the war he was more concerned with the loss of moral principles by the younger generation of the bourgeoisie and their inability to understand reality.

Galsworthy’s artistic method was strongly influenced by Dickens, Thackeray, Maupassant, Turgenev, and Tolstoy; his dramaturgy was influenced by Ibsen and Hauptmann. Galsworthy expressed humanist views in his publicistic works and developed the principles of realism in his critical articles (“The Hotel of Peace.” “Candelabra”). He received the Nobel Prize in 1932.


Works, vols. 1–30. London. 1923–36.
Letters, 1900–1932. Edited by E. Garnett. London. 1934.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch
., vols. 1–12. Leningrad. 1929.
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–16. Moscow. 1962.
Saga o Forsaitakh, vols. 1–2. Moscow. 1956.
Novelly. Moscow. 1957.
Dramy i komedii. Moscow, 1956.


Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1958.
Anikst. A. A. Istoriia angliiskoi literatury. Moscow, 1956.
D’iakonova. N. Ia. Dzhon Golsuorsi, 1867–1933. Leningrad-Moscow. 1960.
Voropanova. M. I. Dzhon Golsuorsi. Krasnoiarsk, 1968.
Dzhon Golsuorsi: Biobibliografich. ukazatel. Compiled by I. M. Levidov. Moscow. 1958.
Marrot. H. The Life and Letters of John Galsworthy. London, 1935.
Marrot, H. A Bibliography of the Works of John Galsworthy. London. 1928.
Sauter, R. Galsworthy, the Man: An Intimate Portrait. London, 1967.