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John Wyndham

From Academic Kids

John Wyndham (July 10, 1903March 11, 1969) was the pen name used by the often post-apocalyptic British science fiction writer John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris.

Contents

Introduction

In his earlier writings, Wyndham used various combinations of his names, such as John Benyon or Lucas Parkes. In one example, The Outward Urge, he actually used both the names "John Wyndham" and "Lucas Parkes", pretending to be two collaborating authors.

Major works

The Day of the Triffids is his most famous book and gave the word "triffid" to English. It describes a catastrophe in which most of the world's population dies after being struck blind by green light from a mysterious meteor show. The survivors then have to battle against the venomous walking plants of the book's title.

The Kraken Wakes describes the conflict between mankind and an underwater race with highly advanced technology.

The Chrysalids, also known as Re-Birth, depicts a rural community in Labrador, several centuries after a nuclear war, with a religious obsession about eliminating those born with any genetic abnormalities. It follows a small group of friends who realize their telepathic abilities have to be hidden, and their troubles when these are discovered. The novel was adapted as a BBC Radio 4 play in the early 1980s.

The Midwich Cuckoos depicts a small village in which, during 24 hours when the inhabitants are unconscious and the village is cut off from the outside world, all the women of child-bearing age mysteriously become pregnant, eventually giving birth to golden eyed children with telepathic abilities.

These four novels are widely regarded as the peak of his achievement. He also wrote several short stories of variable quality, ranging from hard science fiction to the whimsical. Of particular note are Consider Her Ways, The Wheel, and Pillar to Post.

Style

Most of Wyndham's novels have a contemporary English middle-class setting, and have an air of old-fashioned Englishness which is either quaint or stuffy, depending upon one's point of view; some of these have been disparagingly labelled "cosy catastrophes". Significantly, his single major novel that does not have this setting, The Chrysalids, is regarded by some people as his best.

Biography

John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris was born in the village of Knowle just outside Birmingham, England. He lived in Edgbaston until he was eight years old at which point his parents, George Beynon Harris and Gertrude Parkes, separated, he and his brother, the writer Vivian Beynon Harris, had no settled home after this time.

He grew up in a series of English boarding schools, staying longest at Bedales (1918-1921), which he left at the age of 18.

Despite this, his brother Vivian says: "He had a wonderful childhood and teenage time."

After leaving school he studied farming for a while, changed his mind about going to Oxford University and tried several ways of earning a living, but mostly relying on an allowance from his family. He eventually turned to writing for money in 1925. Throughout the 1930s he wrote many stories, mainly for American periodicals. He wrote some detective stories as well as science fiction.

Between 1940 and 1943, Wyndham was a civil servant with the British Government, working in censorship. He went into the army, where he was a Corporal Cipher Operator in the Royal Signal Corps, in time to participate in the Normandy landings.

In 1963 he married Grace Wilson. The couple lived out their lives near Petersfield, Hampshire, just outside the grounds of Bedales School.

Bibliography

Novels

Posthumous novel

  • Web (1979 – published by the executors of his estate, ten years after his death)

Collections

Posthumous collections

External links

bg:Джон Уиндъм cs:John Wyndham cy:John Wyndham nl:john Wyndham de:John Wyndham fr:John Wyndham ja:ジョン・ウィンダム sk:John Wyndham

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