Frank Swinnerton : the life and works of a bookman
Frank Swinnerton worked as a clerk for JA Dent & Co. between 1901 and 1907 and as a publisher's reader for Chatto & Windus from 1907 until 1926, during which time he began his career as a writer of fiction, became influential as a reviewer and commentator on literary fashions, and began close friendships with Arnold Bennett, HG Wells and Hugh Walpole. In 1926 he left London to live in Cranleigh, Surrey, as a full-time writer of novels, short stories, critical works, book and theatre reviews, and miscellaneous articles for newspapers and periodicals. He died at the age of ninety-eight in 1982. This is the first biography of Frank Swinnerton to be undertaken in Great Britain. An analysis has been made of each of his works, both novels and non-fiction. His influence in literary circles has been assessed, and his contribution to the book world is placed within the background of literary output and trends in the twentieth century. Swinnerton was not a great writer, but his temperament, circumstances and talent combined to produce a respected literary figure whose strength was his perception and understanding of the progress of the British literary world through the centuries. Swinnerton's numerous friendships are dealt with as they occurred, although major relationships are examined more fully at the point where the friend died. For example, details on HG Wells can be found with his death in 1946 and on Compton Mackenzie with his death in 1972. Greater space has been given to his involvements with Arnold Bennett and Hugh Walpole, in separate chapters placed close to the time of their deaths in 1931 and 1941. One other chapter stands out of sequence. This examines Swinnerton's relationship with his two wives: his complex courtship of Helen Dircks and his second marriage to Mary Bennett. This period, between 1917 and 1924, which also includes a description of his first lecture tour of the USA in 1923, has been placed immediately after chapters 7 and 8, which examine Swinnerton's general life and work during the same period. Apart from published works and newspaper and periodical articles, the main material used has been Swinnerton's personal diaries, which date from 1910 to 1978, and the correspondence and miscellaneous papers in his personal possession. Also consulted has been a doctoral thesis by Jesse Franklin McCartney presented to the University of Arkansas in 1965, which annotates the large collection of correspondence by Frank Swinnerton to writers, publishers, boakmen and other literary figures, as well as their replies, which are housed in the University library. Full texts of these letters have been obtained where appropriate and used in this work. Professor Blair Rouse of the University of Arkansas wrote a critical appreciation of Swinnerton's work in the 1960s and his widow has allowed use of the unpublished manuscript and letters exchanged between Rouse and Swinnerton, and has sent correspondence between Swinnerton and the Pinker family. Finally, Swinnerton's friends and family have provided facts, opinions and reminiscences.