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john fowles
(1926-05)

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j o h n   f o w l e s  :   b i o g r a p h y  ]


"'There is no truth beyond magic,' said the king."
- John Fowles from The Magus


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    j o h n   f o w l e s  :   f a c t s

  • Name: John Robert Fowles
  • Born: March 31, 1926
  • Place of birth: Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, UK

    j o h n   f o w l e s  :   b i o g .

    John Fowles signed items, autographed books and more @ ebay.com (direct link to signed items) - just checked and the variety of items is something I haven't seen anywhere else - a marvel to behold to anyone fascinated by this enigmatic writer

    John Fowles' novels have brought him popular and critical acclaim. His first novel, The Collector (1963), was an immediate best seller. The Magus (1966, revised in 1977) followed and then the novel by which he is best known, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969). The 1970s saw the publication of The Ebony Tower (1974) and Daniel Martin (1977), the 1980s, Mantissa (1982) and A Maggot (1985).

    Fowles also writes short fiction, essays, poems and translations and a range of his non-fiction texts are to be found in introductions to other writers' books, periodicals and academic journals. The Aristos (1965) was a book about his personal philosophies. Wormholes (1998) and The Tree (2000) offer us his reflections on his life, art and a variety of personal concerns. References to several unfinished works have left fans hoping for another novel.

    John Robert Fowles went to Bedford public school where he did well academically and eventually became head boy. In this role he developed early insights into the abuses of power - later explored critically in his fiction: "You had total power over 800 other boys, you were totally responsible for discipline and punishment. I suppose I used to beat on average three or four boys a day. Very evil, I think." (Interview in New York Times Book Review, 1969). A spell near the end of the war in the Marines interrupted his education. Then he entered New College, Oxford, where he read French and gained an admiration for European traditions of literature together with a "sincere belief in the virtues of doubt".

    Fowles' upbringing was middle class and suburban, a way of life he has since described as "crippling and hideously insufficient". However, from his father came the love of philosophy we associate with his novels and The Aristos, and from an uncle, a passion for natural history. A key experience came too, through evacuation during the war to Devon and the discovery of the countryside as a place in which he could feel intensely alive and restored. Contrasts of the trap of social conformity and the renewing green places of the countryside run throughout his novels. More recently he has written passionately about a threatened countryside.

    After graduating, Fowles taught for twelve years: at the University of Poitiers, France; in a boarding school on the Greek island of Spetsai which suggested the setting for The Magus and where he met Elizabeth Whitton, his wife-to-be, who would provide the inspiration for his heroines; then work in several London schools. With the commercial and critical success of The Collector he was able to give up teaching and devote himself to writing.

    He lives in Lyme Regis, Dorset, with a view from the bottom of his garden of the famous Cobb. He is the curator of the local museum and when he is not writing he enjoys collecting old books and natural history. Since the tragic death of his first wife from cancer he has re-married. The Cobb itself has become a place of literary pilgrimage and Fowles is often besieged by PhD students wanting to talk about his work. Over the last few years he has been active in setting up a John Fowles Literary Trust which will, after his death, turn the home he loves so much into a place of retreat.





    j o h n   f o w l e s  :   s e l e c t e d   b o o k s
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  • THE COLLECTOR, 1963 - film 1965, dir. by William Wyler, starring Terence Stamp and Samatha Eggar
  • THE ARISTOS: A SELF-PORTRAIT AND IDEAS, 1964
  • THE MAGUS, 1965 (rev. ed. 1977)
  • screenplay: THE MAGUS, 1968 - film 1968, dir. by Guy Green, starring Michael Caine, Anthony Quinn, Candice Bergen, Anna Karina. - "This near-miss is not without many notable virtues. Fowles's script sustains interest in its convolutions, direction is resourceful and sensitive, Caine is far more dynamic than usual and Quinn and the two femme stars register strongly." (from Variety Movie Guide 2000, ed. by Derek Elley, 2000)
  • THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN, 1969 - film 1981, dir. by Karel Reisz from a screenplay by Harold Pinter, starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons. - "The film's frequent mirror shots are not only a reference to the illusions of the Victorian age, or the way Victorian fiction is mirrored by events in the modern story. They also relate to Sarah Woodruff as conscious performer, a woman of imagination with a flair for lurid self-dramatization." (from Neil Sinyard's essay, quoted in The Meryl Streep Story by Nick Smurthwaite, 1984)
  • POEMS, 1973
  • SHIPWRECK, 1974 (photographs by the Gibsons of Scilly)
  • THE EBONY TOWER, 1974 - television film 1984
  • translator: CINDERELLA by Charles Perrault, 1974
  • DANIEL MARTIN, 1977
  • translator: OURIKA by Claire de Durfort, 1977
  • ed.: STEEP HOLM, 1978
  • CONDITIONAL, 1979
  • ISLANDS, 1979 (photographs by Fay Godwin)
  • THE TREE, 1979 (photographs by Frank Horvat)
  • THE ENIGMA OF STONEHENGE, 1980 (photographs by Barry Brukoff)
  • DON JUAN, 1981 (adaptation of the play by Molière)
  • A BRIEF HISTORY OF LYME, 1981
  • ed.: MONUMENTA BRITANNICA by John Aubrey, 1981-82 (with Rodney Legg)
  • MANTISSA, 1982
  • A SHORT HISTORY OF LYME REGIS, 1982
  • LORENZACCIO, 1983 (adaptation of the play by Alfred de Musset)
  • ed.: THOMAS HARDY'S ENGLAND by Jo Draper, 1984
  • A MAGGOT, 1985
  • LAND, 1985 (photographs by Fay Godwin)
  • MARTINE, 1985 (adaptation of a play by Jean Jacques Bernard)
  • LYME REGIS CAMERA, 1991
  • TESSERA, 1993
  • WORMHOLES: ESSAYS AND OCCASIONAL WRITINGS, 1998 (with Jan Relf)
  • JOHN FOWLES AND NATURE, 1999 (ed. by James R. Aubrey)
  • CONVERSATIONS WITH JOHN FOWLES, 1999 (ed. by Dianne L. Vipond)
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biography | facts | selected books
kunderagreenegenetfowlessartrecamus
albert camus | john le carre | jean cocteau | john fowles
jean genet | graham greene | milan kundera | sartre

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