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John Fowles


At one period in the 1970s/early 1980s, it looked as though Fowles was about to become the great English writer that English literature has not had since the 19th century. The Magus and The French Lieutenant’s Woman had had great acclaim and were – and are – very fine novels. The film of The French Lieutenant’s Woman appeared to great acclaim. We could all ignore the film of The Magus, a good candidate for the worst film ever made and, in Anthony Quinn and Michael Caine, featuring two of the worst actors in the world. The film of The Collector was watchable. Daniel Martin was entirely self-indulgent and unsuccessful but one flop is allowed. But then all that came after were Mantissa and A Maggot which, frankly, did not work. And that was it. And Fowles slowly stepped into the background as another potentially English writer limited to being just a good writer.

John Fowles was born in 1926 in Leigh-on-Sea. He had a conventional middle class upbringing – his father had a cigar-making and tobacconist business. After national service – two years in the Marines – he studied French and German at Oxford University. He then taught English first in Poitiers and then in Spetsai, the setting for his book, The Magus. He returned to London and continued to teach before publishing his first novel, The Collector. However, it was The Magus which allowed him to become a full-time writer and which enabled him to move to Lyme Regis, away from the London literati. It was also the setting for his next book, The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

But since The French Lieutenant’s Woman, his output has been spotty and not particularly successful, not helped by his own illness and the death of his wife in 1990 from cancer. He will be remembered for his first three novels. He died in 2005.

Books about John Fowles

James M. Acheson: John Fowles
James R. Aubrey: John Fowles
Peter J. Conradi: John Fowles
Robert Huffaker: John Fowles
Ray A. Roberts: John Fowles: A Bibliographic Checklist
Eileen Warburton: Biography Of John Fowles

Other Links

John Fowles–The Web Site
John Fowles
John Fowles (1926-)
John Fowles
Featured Author: John Fowles
The Memory of John Fowles
Collecting John Fowles


Reclusive novelist John Fowles dies at 79
Writer John Fowles dies aged 79
Obituary: John Fowles
John Fowles, 79, British Postmodernist Who Tested Novel’s Conventions, Dies


1963 The Collector
1964 The Aristos
1965 The Magus
1969 The French Lieutenant’s Woman
1973 Poems
1974 The Ebony Tower
1974 Shipwreck
1977 Daniel Martin
1978 Islands
1979 The Tree
1980 The Enigma of Stonehenge
1982 A Short History of Lyme Regis
1982 Mantissa
1984 Thomas Hardy’s England (with Jo Draper)
1985 Land
1985 A Maggot
1990 Lyme Regis Camera
1994 Behind the Magus
1998 Wormholes
2003 The Journals – Volume 1
2006 The Journals – Volume 2
2012 Selected Poems