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The Stories of William Sansom

William Sansom
Date Published
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‘William Sansom [1912-1976] was once described as London’s closest equivalent to Franz Kafka. He wrote in hallucinatory detail, bringing every image into pin-sharp focus… Sansom writes of head-aching hatreds and hopeless ecstasies, of malevolent objects and wasted lives… Sansom’s publisher described his work as “modern fables”, but what makes them so ripe for rediscovery is their freshness and currency.’
Christopher Fowler, Independent

‘The worlds William Sansom surprises into life are populated with gentle stranglers and murderous lovers, with beasts that think like men and men who dream themselves into beasts. Their environs are often menacing and unfailingly strange…’

This stunning collection, introduced by Elizabeth Bowen, offers a gleaming array of Sansom’s finest fables, among them ‘The Wall’, ‘A Contest of Ladies’, ‘Displaced Persons’, ‘Various Temptations’, ‘A Saving Grace’, ‘A Woman Seldom Found’, and ‘The Vertical Ladder.’

”The Vertical Ladder’… a short story about a man climbing a very high ladder and becoming more and more afraid… is a masterpiece, at once pure thought and pure action, [one] of the best short stories of the twentieth century.’
B.R. Myers, Atlantic

‘A Sansom story is a tour de force… Here is a writer whose faculties not only suit the short story but are suited by it – suited and, one may feel, enhanced… In the narration there must be an element of conjury, and of that William Sansom is an evident master.’
Elizabeth Bowen (from her ‘Introduction’)


William Sansom (1912-1976) was a leading writer of his day, both for fiction and non-fiction. In 1946 and 1947 he was awarded two literary prizes by the Society of Authors, and in 1951 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. During the Second World War he became a full-time London firefighter, serving throughout the Blitz. His experiences…

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