Authors: James T. Farrell

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

American novelist, short-story writer, and critic

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Young Lonigan: A Boyhood in Chicago Streets, 1932

Gas-House McGinty, 1933

The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan, 1934

Judgment Day, 1935

Studs Lonigan: A Trilogy, 1935 (collective title for Young Lonigan, The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan, and Judgment Day)

A World I Never Made, 1936

No Star Is Lost, 1938

Tommy Gallagher’s Crusade, 1939

Father and Son, 1940

Ellen Rogers, 1941

My Days of Anger, 1943

Bernard Clare, 1946

The Road Between, 1949

This Man and This Woman, 1951

Yet Other Waters, 1952

The Face of Time, 1953

Boarding House Blues, 1961

The Silence of History, 1963

What Time Collects, 1964

When Time Was Born, 1966

Lonely for the Future, 1966

New Year’s Eve/1929, 1967

A Brand New Life, 1968

Judith, 1969

Invisible Swords, 1971

The Dunne Family, 1976

The Death of Nora Ryan, 1978

Short Fiction:

Calico Shoes, and Other Stories, 1934

Guillotine Party, and Other Stories, 1935

Can All This Grandeur Perish? and Other Stories, 1937

The Short Stories of James T. Farrell, 1937

$1,000 a Week, and Other Stories, 1942

Fifteen Selected Stories, 1943

To Whom It May Concern, and Other Stories, 1944

When Boyhood Dreams Come True, 1946

The Life Adventurous, and Other Stories, 1947

A Hell of a Good Time, 1948

An American Dream Girl, and Other Stories, 1950

French Girls Are Vicious, and Other Stories, 1955

An Omnibus of Short Stories, 1956

A Dangerous Woman, and Other Stories, 1957

Saturday Night, and Other Stories, 1958

Side Street, and Other Stories, 1961

Sound of a City, 1962

Childhood Is Not Forever, 1969

Judith, and Other Stories, 1973

Olive and Mary Anne, 1977


The Mowbray Family, pb. 1946 (with Hortense Alden Farrell)


The Collected Poems of James T. Farrell, 1965


A Note on Literary Criticism, 1936

The League of Frightened Philistines, and Other Papers, 1945

The Fate of Writing in America, 1946

Literature and Morality, 1947

The Name Is Fogarty: Private Papers on Public Matters, 1950

Reflections at Fifty, and Other Essays, 1954

My Baseball Diary, 1957

It Has Come To Pass, 1958

On Irish Themes, 1982


Born in Chicago, Illinois, James Thomas Farrell forever carried the spirit of his birthplace with him. Direct and energetic, he secured his place in literature with his earlier novels, especially the trilogy Studs Lonigan (Young Lonigan, The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan, and Judgment Day). These novels established Farrell as a major figure in so-called proletariat literature, for in them he depicts working-class people in working-class situations as they existed during his own boyhood. Farrell was so much a realist that his style has been called photographic, and Studs Lonigan is considered a work of sociological as well as literary significance.{$I[AN]9810001273}{$I[A]Farrell, James T.}{$I[geo]UNITED STATES;Farrell, James T.}{$I[tim]1904;Farrell, James T.}

James T. Farrell

(©The Nobel Foundation)

Farrell’s own life provided the model for his Danny O’Neill pentalogy, which began in 1936 with A World I Never Made. Like Danny, Farrell was born into a working-class family that was too large for his parents to support. Like his character Danny, Farrell was reared by his maternal grandparents, and, like Danny, Farrell found his escape through writing. Both the fictional Danny O’Neill and his creator, James T. Farrell, were reared in environments that threatened to swallow up the weak-willed and fainthearted. Yet the thoughtful individual with a vision of life that went beyond the streets of Chicago’s South Side could escape. Both Farrell and Danny overcame their environments, attended the University of Chicago, and became writers.

Farrell’s career as a writer began at the University of Chicago, which he attended intermittently between 1925 and 1929. Although he never received his degree, Farrell took several influential courses in writing while supporting himself with various jobs that ranged from work as a service station attendant to that of express clerk. In 1929 Farrell published his first short story, “Studs,” and began the manuscript that eventually became Young Lonigan. During this time he married Dorothy Butler, and the two spent a year in Paris, where Farrell met a number of stimulating people, including Samuel Putnam and Ezra Pound, who admired the toughness of Farrell’s style.

The year in Paris was a difficult one, for Farrell and his wife had little money, their first child died soon after birth, and their elopement had not endeared them to their families. Upon Farrell’s return to the United States in April, 1932, however, the future brightened. Young Lonigan was published, followed in rapid succession by Gas-House McGinty, The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan, and Judgment Day. The Lonigan books were sufficiently well received to justify their reissue as a trilogy. That republication brought Farrell to the forefront of the battles then raging over book censorship, for the Studs Lonigan books were prosecuted for obscenity; they were deemed acceptable in 1937. Farrell became a leader in left-wing causes, a supporter of Leon Trotsky, and an opponent of the Stalinist cause. Farrell was increasingly in demand during the 1930’s and 1940’s, as his Danny O’Neill novels established him as an important voice in American literature.

The twenty years from 1932 to 1952 represent an extremely fertile era for Farrell, one seldom if ever equaled by any author. During that time Farrell published two trilogies, a pentalogy, two single novels, several volumes of short stories, and three books of literary criticism. Farrell slowed his production considerably in the 1950’s, as the public’s taste for his brand of photographic realism waned. Perhaps disillusioned over a breakup with his longtime publisher, Vanguard Press, he turned away from long fiction to publish instead books of short stories, essays, and reminiscences. Not until 1961 did Farrell, by then destitute, publish the beginning of a series he called “A Universe of Time,” which he hoped would include twenty-five novels. These later works are more uneven in quality than the earlier novels, but this period is notable for The Silence of History, Judith, and Invisible Swords, a novel based on his own experience of having a retarded child.

BibliographyBranch, Edgar M. James T Farrell. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1963. Although his monograph is an overview of Farrell’s life and work, Branch devotes considerable attention to Farrell’s short stories, which he regards as closely linked to the novels. The stories are often preliminary experiments, deletions, or parts of abandoned projects, and they are consistent in tone and style with the larger works.Branch, Edgar M. James T. Farrell. New York: Twayne, 1971. After tracing Farrell’s “plebeian origin,” Branch discusses major works including the Studs Lonigan trilogy, the O’Neill-O’Flaherty series, and the Bernard Carr trilogy. Essays on other works including the cycle of A Universe of Time follow. A chronology, notes, a selected bibliography, and an index complete the work.Branch, Edgar M. Studs Lonigan’s Neighborhood and the Making of James T. Farrell. Newton, Mass.: Arts End Books, 1996. A look at the Chicago neighborhood of Farrell’s youth and the inspiration for the Studs Lonigan series. Includes illustrations, maps, bibliographical references, and an index.Fanning, Charles. “Death and Revery in James T. Farrell’s O’Neill-O’Flaherty Novels.” In The Incarnate Imagination: Essays in Theology, the Arts, and Social Sciences, in Honor of Andrew Greeley: A Festschrift, edited by Ingrid H. Shafer. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1988. Although Fanning is primarily concerned with Farrell’s novels, he does identify themes that pervade all Farrell’s fiction: the artist as an isolated being, the role of memory and dreaming in achieving the necessary isolation, and the relationship of the isolation to the experience of death.Farrell, James T. Selected Essays. Edited by Lunor Wolf. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967. This book, which contains an overview of Farrell’s literary criticism, reprints many of Farrell’s most significant essays, among them “On the Function of the Novel” and “The Writer and His Conscience.” Also contains discussions of naturalism, Leo Tolstoy, and the American literary tradition.Freedman, Samuel G. “Echoes of Lonigan, Fifty Years After.” The New York Times Book Review 90 (March 17, 1985): 45. Argues that Farrell’s Studs Lonigan trilogy still conveys the essence of Chicago life; states his portrayal of the Lonigans’ bigotry still rings true; argues that the trilogy is valuable on aesthetic as well as sociological grounds and that Farrell deserves recognition as a prime influence on writers like Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow, Bette Howland, and David Mamet.Fried, Lewis F. Makers of the City. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1990. Fried argues that Farrell portrays the city as a liberalizing and democratizing force. Fried does an excellent job of weaving together discussion of Farrell’s life, career, and fiction. He also provides a helpful bibliographical essay on other studies of Farrell.Landers, Robert K. An Honest Writer: The Life and Times of James T. Farrell. San Francisco, Calif.: Encounter Books, 2004. A fresh look at the creator of Studs Lonigan, this biography argues for renewed appreciation for the American Naturalist, who has fallen out of popular and critical favor.Pizer, Donald. “James T. Farrell and the 1930’s.” In Literature at the Barricades: The American Writer in the 1930’s, edited by Ralph F. Bogardus and Fred Hobson. University: University of Alabama Press, 1982. Pizer argues convincingly that Farrell’s literary roots are in the 1920’s, that he owes as much to the Chicago school of philosophical pragmation as to naturalism, and that James Joyce and Sherwood Anderson also influenced Farrell’s fiction. To demonstrate his theses, Pizer analyzes the Studs Lonigan trilogy.Smith, Gene. “The Lonigan Curse.” American Heritage 46 (April, 1995): 150-151. Claims that while the character of Studs Lonigan became Farrell’s most popular creation, it was also his biggest personal albatross; notes that after killing Studs off, Farrell had trouble getting his work published and came to look back at his earlier work with loathing.Wald, Alan M. James T. Farrell: The Revolutionary Socialist Years. New York: New York University Press, 1978. Wald’s chapter “The Literary Record” demonstrates the intent of Leon Trotsky’s influence on Farrell’s fiction, and several short stories (“John Hitchcock,” “The Dialectic,” “The Renegade”) receive extensive political readings. Wald identifies the real persons represented by Farrell’s fictional characters and focuses on Farrell’s treatment of the plight of the socialist writer. Contains an excellent bibliography with many political entries.
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