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Hanley, James

Entry updated 25 March 2019. Tagged: Author.

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(1901-1985) Irish author, in the UK from around 1908, whose prolific output – beginning with Drift (1930) – focused on raw tales of life at sea, and upon sometimes grim novels about working-class life in Britain, a savagery of address almost certainly effected in part through his long immersion in World War One; he enlisted early, was gassed and invalidated out of the army, and returned to war work as a stoker on ships carrying troops. Boy (1932), about sexual violence inflicted on the young at sea, was successfully prosecuted for obscenity; the truth of his portrait was not questioned. E M Forster vigorously defended the novel in his "Liberty in England" (delivered 1935; in Abinger Harvest coll 1936). Hanley's only sf, What Farrar Saw (1946; rev as coll, vt What Farrar Saw and Other Stories 1984), set in a Near-Future war-depleted Britain, presents a country choked by both an invidious class system and a sudden, convulsive, nation-wide traffic jam, which serves not only as a metaphor for social sclerosis, but as a description of the future of petroleum-based road Transportation after World War Two; it is a vision consistent with the ironized view of the future typical of the late Scientific Romance, but one not expressed in American Genre SF of the time, where typically the consequences of the triumph of the car were not addressed. In What Farrar Saw the immediate jam is cleared with bombs, but the system seems intact. [JC]

James Joseph Hanley

born Dublin, Ireland: 3 September 1901 [it has been argued that he was born in Liverpool, 3 September 1897]

died London: 11 November 1985



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