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Hanley, James

wrote sea boy william

(Irish, 1901–85)

Hanley was a neglected genius during his lifetime, and, shamefully, he remains so today. He wrote about the sea, about the lives of common sailors, and how their characters are shaped under the stress of elemental forces. He was born in Dublin, grew up in Liverpool, and ran away to sea when he was 13. His early novels, Drift (1930) and Boy (1931), deal so harshly and uncompromisingly with what he endured that Boy was prosecuted for obscene libel. Hanley went on to write forty-eight full-length works, including The Closed Harbour (1952) and The Furys (1935), a five-volume saga about a Catholic family in Liverpool during the General Strike. He also wrote some superb short stories, collected in The Last Voyage (1997). Hanley is not an easy read, but exceptionally rewarding. His stature is on a par with William Faulkner, an admirer of his work.

Malcolm Lowry, B. Traven, William Faulkner  TH

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