The Furys

James Hanley
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ISBN 9780571251209 Format Paperback
Published 16/04/2009 Length 396 pages

About Book

Although admired by fellow writers like E. M. Forster, Henry Green and William Faulkner and winning comparisons with Joseph Conrad and Dostoyevsky, James Hanley is not as well known as he should be. Without doubt, he was one of the major British writers of the twentieth-century. Faber Finds is proud to be reissuing his Furys saga, making all five novels available for the first time.

Before writing The Furys, James Hanley outlined his plan to his publisher:

'I want to show the downfall of a whole family excepting one, and that is the woman. That woman is heroic, powerful, exercises a tremendous influence over her family. I shall show her under every light. I cannot attempt to describe in detail the amazing lives of these people, sometimes fantastic, but never, never divorced from reality. Working class lives are full of colour, of poetry, there is the stuff of drama in the most insignificant things.'

The Furys, the first in the sequence, is set in Liverpool, renamed Gelton, in 1911. Set during the 'Great Liverpool Transport Strike', it centres upon a decisive moment in the lives of the Fury family. Fanny Fury has pinned all her frustrated hopes on her youngest son, Peter. Struggling against poverty and family resentment, she sends Peter to train for the priesthood. Seven years later, and in disgrace, he returns home to face her pain and rage.

'It's great . . . I really think it is different in quality, texture, atmosphere, view-point, art and purpose from any other book I know. It's a wonderful thing to have done. . .The character of the mother is a masterpiece, and so - only second to her - is Mr Fury. I never recall reading of the mysterious and involved link between married people so profoundly and touchingly portrayed.' John Cowper Powys

  • About James Hanley

    Almost all biographies give James Hanley's dates as 1901 to 1985. The date of his death is not in doubt, but as his son, Liam Hanley, has recently established he was born in 1897, and in Liverpool not Dublin as previously thought.

    James Hanley was a novelist and playwright. His output was prodigious: in addition to the five novels in the Furys sequence being reissued by Faber Finds, he wrote about twenty-five novels, sixteen volumes of short stories, six plays and seven books of miscellaneous writings.

    His early life was adventurous. He joined the merchant navy when seventeen (his sea-faring days were formative), jumped ship in Canada, joined the Canadian Army, fought in the First World War, and was gassed before returning to Liverpool in 1918.

    His novel, Boy, achieved notoriety when it was suppressed for obscenity in the 1930s. The unexpurgated edition is now in print with Oneworld Classics.

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