Authors: Frank Swinnerton

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English novelist

Author Works

Long Fiction:

The Merry Heart, 1909

The Casement, 1911

The Happy Family, 1912

Nocturne, 1917

September, 1919

Coquette, 1921

The Three Lovers, 1922

Young Felix, 1923

The Elder Sister, 1925

Summer Storm, 1926

A Brood of Ducklings, 1928

Sketch of a Sinner, 1929

The Georgian House, 1932

Elizabeth, 1934

Harvest Comedy, 1937

The Two Wives, 1939

The Fortunate Lady, 1941

Thankless Child, 1942

A Woman in Sunshine, 1945

A Flower for Catherine, 1951

A Month in Gordon Square, 1953

The Summer Intrigue, 1955

Woman from Sicily, 1957

Tigress in the Village, 1959

The Grace Divorce, 1960

Death of a Highbrow, 1961

Quadrille, 1965

Sanctuary, 1966


George Gissing, 1912

R. L. Stevenson, 1914

Tokefield Papers, 1927

A London Bookman, 1928

The Georgian Scene, 1934 (pb. in Britain as The Georgian Literary Scene, 1935)

Swinnerton, an Autobiography, 1936

The Bookman’s London, 1951

Background with Chorus, 1956

Authors I Never Met, 1956

Figures in the Foreground: Literary Reminiscences 1917-1940, 1963

Reflections from a Village, 1969


Frank Arthur Swinnerton, born in a London suburb on August 12, 1884, was a precocious boy who avowedly taught himself to read at the age of four. A series of illnesses as a child, including diphtheria, paralysis, and scarlet fever, caused poor health through most of his later boyhood. His family frequently endured straitened circumstances, especially after his father’s death, when he and his brother became responsible for supporting the family.{$I[AN]9810000016}{$I[A]Swinnerton, Frank}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Swinnerton, Frank}{$I[tim]1884;Swinnerton, Frank}

He decided early to be a journalist and became an office boy for a Scottish newspaper publisher, Hay, Nisbet & Company, in 1898, at the age of fourteen. In 1900, having decided to become a man of letters rather than a journalist, he became a confidential clerk with publishers J. M. Dent. He worked there until 1907. In 1907 he joined Chatto & Windus, another British publisher, as a proofreader. In 1909, Chatto & Windus published his first novel, The Merry Heart, and made him an editor. He remained with Chatto & Windus through 1926, bringing novelists such as Aldous Huxley, A. A. Milne, Arnold Bennett, and H. G. Wells to the firm. Before he was thirty Swinnerton had published several books, novels, and critical biographies. His first outstanding success came in 1917 with Nocturne, a short but almost perfect Cockney idyll. He went on publishing through his ninety-fourth year, completing sixty-one books, including forty-one novels. A London Bookman, Tokefield Papers, and The Bookman’s London are volumes of essays. The Georgian Scene is a work of literary criticism; it is, withHarvest Comedy, one of the two books Swinnerton considered his best.

From 1937 to 1942 Swinnerton was chief reviewer of fiction for the London Observer. During World War II he served the British government as a civil servant in the Ministry of Information. His first wife was Helen Dircks, a poet. His second wife, whom he married in 1924, was Mary Dorothy Bennett; they had one daughter. Swinnerton was considered a competent novelist and a dependable storyteller. Critics rarely were enthusiastic, but they gave measured approval to many of his works, and he was accepted as a literary personality. His books sold well.

BibliographyBennet, Arnold. Frank Swinnerton. 1920. Reprint. Plainview, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1975.Catron, Douglas M. “Frank Swinnerton.” In British Novelists, 1890-1929: Traditionalists, edited by Thomas F. Staley. Vol. 34 of Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale Research, 1984.McKay, Ruth. George Gissing and His Critic Frank Swinnerton. 1933. Reprint. Folcroft, Pa.: Folcroft Press, 1969.
Categories: Authors