Hanley, James, 1901-

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James Hanley was a British writer of Irish descent best known for his uncompromising stories and novels of the sea. Raised in Liverpool, Hanley went to sea as a young man, and jumped ship in Canada. After serving in France as a volunteer member of the Canadian Army, he lived in Wales, where he began writing. His second novel, Boy, the story of a thirteen-year-old stowaway, was banned for graphic depictions of sex and violence, but praised by critics. Hanley continued to write novels and stories, in a singularly aggressive style, reaching a small public audience but an increasingly laudatory critical one. He moved to London in the 1960s and wrote scripts for the BBC.

From the description of James Hanley note with poem to Dear Mr. Milkman, 1938 Nov. 18. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 227389405

Irish author and novelist.

From the description of Ebb and flood : manuscript, 1932. (Boston College). WorldCat record id: 50550344

James Hanley was born in Dublin of a working-class family and received an elementary education before running off to sea at age thirteen. He worked at various jobs before becoming a journalist and publishing his first novel, Drift, in 1930. Since then he has published 17 novels, several collections of short stories, and an autobiography. Since he began.

writing plays in the 1960s he has written over 80, many of which have been produced for radio on the BBC.

From the description of Papers, 1930-1969. (Temple University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 727944273

Hanley, James (1901-1985), novelist and playwright, was born in Dublin in 1901, the son of Edward Hanley, a ship's stoker. The only school Hanley attended was St Alexandra's Roman Catholic primary school, near his home. At the age of twelve he left school and joined the merchant navy, serving in a submarine during the First World War. Three years later he jumped ship at New Brunswick to enlist in the Canadian Black Watch and eventually saw action in France. Invalided out of the army suffering from the effects of gas, he returned to the sea, working as a stoker on troop carriers, which he featured in some of his novels. He continued to educate himself, mainly by reading Russian literature, and having come ashore in the late 1920s earned a precarious living in a variety of jobs in docks, on the railway, and for a while at Aintree racecourse. Many of his early stories were published in the Liverpool Echo, the editor of which, E. Hope Prince, became his mentor.

Hanley's first novel, 'Drift' (1930), and his first volume of stories, 'The German Prisoner' (1930), were published shortly before his move to Wales, where he settled first at Glan Ceirw, Ty-nant, near Corwen in Merioneth, and then, in the autumn of 1941, at Bodynfoel Lodge and Tan-y-ffridd in the village of Llanfechain, Montgomeryshire. His second novel, 'Boy' (1932), was originally published in an edition of 145 copies for subscribers only. An expurgated trade edition followed, but when in 1934 it was issued in a cheap edition, copies were seized by the police and the book was successfully prosecuted for obscenity. The publisher was fined 400 and copies of the book were burnt. Hanley forbade republication of the novel during his lifetime and it was not reissued until 1990.

The first of Hanley's novels about the Furys, a Liverpool Irish family, appeared in 1935 and a volume of autobiography, 'Broken Water', in 1937. On the outbreak of the Second World War he found work with the BBC and later with the Ministry of Information, but his home remained in Llanfechain until 1963, when he and his wife moved to London. During the war he wrote three novels of the sea which are among his best work: 'Hollow Sea' (1938), 'The Ocean' (1941), and 'Sailor's Song' (1943). He also wrote the autobiographical 'No Directions' (1943). Many of his stories and radio plays were broadcast on the BBC Third Programme during the 1940s. During his long residence in Wales, Hanley wrote four books: a collection of essays, 'Don Quixote Drowned' (1953), and the novels 'The Welsh Sonata' (1954), Another World (1971), and 'A Kingdom' (1978). His 'Selected Stories' appeared in 1947 and 'Collected Stories' in 1953. Hanley of bronchial pneumonia died in November 1985.

From the guide to the James Hanley manuscripts, 1926-[?1936], (Senate House Library, University of London)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn New Directions Publishing records Houghton Library
referencedIn Alan Steele: Letters to him, 20th century Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
creatorOf Hanley, James, 1901-1985. James Hanley note with poem to Dear Mr. Milkman, 1938 Nov. 18. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
creatorOf Letters of James Hanley, 1929-1951., 1929-1951 University of Kansas Kenneth Spencer Research Library Department of Special Collections
creatorOf Hanley, James, 1901-. Papers, 1930-1969. Temple University Libraries, Paley Library
referencedIn Temple University. Descriptive registers, 1970-1973. Wisconsin Historical Society Archives
creatorOf James Hanley manuscripts, 1926-[?1936] Senate House Library (University of London)
referencedIn Hunt, William E. James Hanley correspondence to William E. Hunt, 1966-1967. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn James Hanley correspondence to William E. Hunt, 1966-1967 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Hound & Horn records, 1925-1940 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Lawrence, T. E. (Thomas Edward), 1888-1935. Papers, 1910-1961. Houghton Library
referencedIn Paul Scott Collection TXRC98-A8., 1952-1976 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Papers of Leonard Arthur Pavey, 1916-1953 University of Kansas Kenneth Spencer Research Library Department of Special Collections
creatorOf Scott, Paul, 1920-1978. Paul Scott Collection, 1952-1976. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Autograph File, H Houghton Library
creatorOf Hanley, James, 1901-1985. Ebb and flood : manuscript, 1932. Boston College. John J. Burns Library
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary. 1976 - 1981. Staff Scheduling Memoranda. 1977 - 1978. 7/1/77-7/13/77 Jimmy Carter Library
referencedIn English literature mss., 1901-1950 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn T. E. Lawrence Collection TXRC98-A3., 1912-1966 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Lawrence, T. E. (Thomas Edward), 1888-1935. T.E. Lawrence Collection, 1912-1966. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Hanley, James, 1901-1985. Letters : London, to Seymour Adelman, [197-]. Bryn Mawr College, Mariam Coffin Canaday Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adelman, Seymour, 1906- person
associatedWith Betjeman, John, Sir, 1906- person
associatedWith British Broadcasting Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Britten, Benjamin, 1913-1976. person
associatedWith Forster, E. M. (Edward Morgan), 1879-1970. person
associatedWith Fraser, Claud Lovat, 1890-1921. person
associatedWith Hancox, Alan. person
associatedWith Hoffer, William, 1944- person
associatedWith Hunt, William E person
associatedWith Hunt, William E. person
associatedWith Lawrence, T. E. (Thomas Edward), 1888-1935 person
associatedWith Livings, Henry, 1929- person
correspondedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith Pavey, Leonard Arthur, 1888- person
associatedWith Plomer, William, 1903-1973. person
associatedWith Scott, Paul, 1920-1978. person
associatedWith Steele, Alan person
associatedWith Temple University. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Great Britain
Authors, Irish
Male authors, English


Birth 1901-09-03

Death 1985-11-11

Irish (Republic of Ireland)



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