A. J. Cronin

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A.J. Cronin

A. J. Cronin is the pen-name of the Scottish novelist Archibald Joseph Cronin (July 19, 1896 - January 9, 1981). He is remembered chiefly as the author of The Citadel and The Keys of the Kingdom, both of which were translated into Oscar-nominated films. His Dr. Finlay stories, which were based on characters from his autobiography, Adventures in Two Worlds, became a long-running BBC drama series.

Born in Cardross, Dunbartonshire (now in Argyll and Bute), Scotland, Cronin was the only child of a Catholic father and a Protestant mother. He was a precocious student at Dumbarton Academy who won many writing competitions. Due to his exceptional abilities, he was awarded a scholarship to study medicine at the University of Glasgow. It was there that he met his future wife, Agnes Mary Gibson, who was also a medical student. He graduated with honours from medical school in 1919 and went on to earn additional advanced degrees.

Cronin trained as a doctor in various hospitals before serving as a Royal Navy surgeon during World War I. After the war he set up a practice in a mining area of South Wales and was appointed Medical Inspector of Mines. His experiences researching the deleterious effects of the mining industry on the workers' health formed the foundation for his later book, The Stars Look Down. He subsequently moved to London and had a very successful practice on Harley Street. While on holiday in the Scottish Highlands, Cronin penned his first novel, Hatter's Castle, with which he achieved instant acclaim. It tells the story of a family brought to ruin by the pride, stubbornness and bigotry of its patriarch. Many of his books became top-ten bestsellers which were printed in numerous languages.

Cronin's strengths as a writer were his narrative skill and his powers of acute observation and graphic description. Some of his novels and stories draw on his medical career, dramatically mixing realism, romance, and social criticism. The Citadel is said to have contributed to the establishment of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom with its exposure of medical inequalities. He moved to the United States in the late 1930s with his wife and three sons. They settled in Greenwich and then New Canaan, Connecticut. For the last 25 years of his life, he lived in Switzerland, where he continued to write into his eighties. He died on January 9, 1981, in Montreux, Switzerland.


Many of the following books were made into films under the same title:

External links

fr:Archibald Joseph Cronin pl:Archibald Joseph Cronin


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