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Galsworthy, John. (1867 - 1933).

W o r k

- the last major story-teller of the Victorian era (his traditional methods) and/or one of the first writers of the Edwardian era (his challenging some of the ideals of the Victorian society)

- author of several dozens of realist novels and socially critical plays 

- preoccupied with class-consciousness and class conflict

- gives a precise account of the upper class’s opinions and attitudes

- uses the novel as an instrument of social debate, the artist’s duty is to examine a problem x but: not to offer a solution

F i c t i o n :

The Forsyte Saga: The Man of Property (1906), In Chancery (1920), and To Let (1921):

- a vast account of the fortunes of the three generations of a wealthy upper middle class Victorian family

- generally sympathetic to his characters x but: highlights their snobbish attitudes and suffocating moral codes

> won him the Nobel Prize (1932), filmed several times

A Modern Comedy (1924 - 1928) and End of the Chapter (1931 - 1933):

- both trilogies, loose sequels of The Forsyte Saga

D r a m a :

- in his lifetime appreciated mainly as a playwright

- propagandist: the bourgeois theatre should confront bourgeois audiences with the need to examine their social consciences

- uses stark, one-word titles expressive of the once urgent social themes

- sympathetic to the victims of an uncaring society x but: sentimental and politically impartial

- campaigned for a variety of causes: prison reform, women’s rights, animal welfare, censorship, etc.

The Silver Box (1906):

- on the double standards of justice applied to the upper x lower classes

- the mutual alienation of a rich x a poor family complicated by a theft

Strife (1909):

- on the confrontation of the capital x labour in a mining strike

Justice (1910):

- on human suffering in prisons

> moved Winston Churchill to abolish solitary confinement in prisons

Escape (1926):

- the protagonist, a law-abiding man, accidentally kills a police in defending a prostitute, escapes from prison, and meets different people before giving himself up


(Photo: Wikimedia Commons).

  • Author

    John Galsworthy. (1867 - 1933). British.
  • Work

    Novelist. Playwright. Author of The Forsyte Saga (1906 - 22). Nobel Prize Winner (1932).
  • Genres

    Edwardian period. Traditional novel. Family saga. Socially critical play.


Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.

Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.

Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.

Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.

Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.

Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.


"The Forsytes were resentful of something, not individually, but as a family; this resentment expressed itself in an added perfection of raiment, an exuberance of family cordiality, an exaggeration of family importance, and—the sniff."

From The Man of Property (1906).


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