John Galsworthy (14 August 1867 – 31 January 1933) was an English novelist and playwright. Notable works include The Forsyte Saga (1906—1921) and its sequels, A Modern Comedy and End of the Chapter. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1932.
John Galsworthy was born at Kingston Hill in Surrey, England into an established wealthy family, the son of John and Blanche Bailey (née Bartleet) Galsworthy. His large Kingston upon Thames estate is now the site of three schools: Marymount International, Rokeby Preparatory School and Holy Cross. He attended Harrow and New College, Oxford,
training as a barrister, and was called to the bar in 1890. However, he
was not keen to begin practising law and instead travelled abroad to
look after the family's shipping business. During these travels he met Joseph Conrad, then the first mate of a sailing-ship moored in the harbour of Adelaide, Australia,
and the two future novelists became close friends. In 1895 Galsworthy
began an affair with Ada Nemesis Pearson Cooper (1864–1956), the wife of
his cousin Major Arthur Galsworthy. After her divorce ten years later,
they married 23 September 1905 and stayed together until his death in
Prior to their marriage, they would stay clandestinely in a
farmhouse called Wingstone in the village of Manaton on Dartmoor, Devon. From 1908 he took out a long lease on part of the building and made it their regular second home until 1923. His work is often less convincing when it deals with the changing
face of wider British society and how it affected the lower social
classes. Through his writings he campaigned for a variety of causes,
including prison reform, women's rights, animal welfare, and the
opposition of censorship. During World War I he worked in a hospital in
France as an orderly after being passed over for military service. He was elected as the first president of the International PEN literary club in 1921, was appointed to the Order of Merit
in 1929—after earlier turning down a knighthood—and was awarded the
Nobel Prize in 1932. He was too ill to attend the Nobel awards ceremony,
and died six weeks later of a stroke.
John Galsworthy lived for the final seven years of his life at Bury in West Sussex. He died from a brain tumour at his London home, Grove Lodge, Hampstead. In accordance with his will he was cremated at Woking with his ashes then being scattered over the South Downs from an aeroplane, but there are also memorials in Highgate 'New' Cemetery and in the cloisters of New College, Oxford(the latter cut and placed in the cloisters by Eric Gill). The popularity of his fiction waned quickly after his death but the hugely successful adaptation of The Forsyte Saga in 1967 renewed interest in his work.