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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Just recently, one Turkish television station has been showing one of my favorite British series, "The Forsyte Saga." If you have ever read any of John Galsworthy's books or perhaps, even more popular, seen the television series based on Galsworthy's series of novels -- "The Man of Property "(1906), "Indian Summer of a Forsyte" (1918), "In Chancery" (1920), "Awakening" (1920) and "To Let" (1921) -- then, you know what I mean by the author addressing social issues in England.
John Galsworthy's series of novels The Forsyte Saga has been made into a television series twice.
Executive producers, Andy Harries for Granada and Rebecca Eaton for WGBH; producer Sita Williams; directors, Christopher Menaul, David Moore; writer, Stephen Mallatratt, based on novels of John Galsworthy; camera, Sue Gibson (episodes 1-3), Alan Almond (episodes 4-6); editors, Tony Cranstoun (episodes 1-3), Anthony Ham (episodes 4-6); music Geoffrey Burgon; production designer, Stephen Fineren: casting, Judi Hayfield.
"If you do not think about the future, you cannot have one." Those words by English novelist and playwright John Galsworthy adequately and concisely sum up the need for all of us--individuals and organizations--to exercise foresight and continually calculate the future.
80 YEARS AGO (1923): The Cleveland Play House opens its eighth season with John Galsworthy's The Silver Box.
The fourth Edwardian uncle, John Galsworthy, shared Bennett's enthusiasm for the novel as a work of art.
examines three literary works that she believes illustrate the language and forms that such selves may take: John Galsworthy's The Forsythe Saga (the exchanger self), Gloria Naylor's The Women of Brewster Place (the obligated self), and Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha (the cosmic self).
Hamsun's well-known literary admirers in England were restricted to such as John Galsworthy, H.
Wells, Arnold Bennett, and John Galsworthy. They are portrayed as materialistic philistines who were content with giving superficial descriptions of their characters in contrast to Forster who strove to penetrate his characters' inner reality.
On 19 March 1914 he writes a famous, and poignant, letter to John Galsworthy, the best-loved, most loyal, and most helpful of his friends: 'Chance had a tremendous press.
The influence of John Galsworthy's play `Justice' (1910) in securing reductions in the time convicts spent in separate confinement has been widely acknowledged, in a rather minor way, in a number of penal histories.
Dalloway (just as debates over the conflict between aestheticism and feminism in Woolf's work fixate on To the Lighthouse), Gindin finds in Woolf's later novels The Years and Between the Acts a reconciliation with the historical and social concerns of the Edwardians she once execrated as materialists, Arnold Bennett and John Galsworthy - an accommodation that has its limits, given the novels' continuity with the formalism of earlier work, acknowledged by Gindin.