This page is devoted to current news, rumors, notes and anything else of interest regarding John Fowles. If you have an item to share, please e-mail us at Magusbooks -at- hotmail -dot- com. Thanks.
January 11, 2020
Tom Adams, a British illustrator and painter who designed the dust jacket art for The Collector, The Magus and The French Lieutenant’s Woman, recently died at the age of 93. Adams began illustrating book covers in the early 1960s and produced the iconic illustrations for John Fowles’ first three novels. He later became renowned for providing the book cover art for the paperback editions of Agatha Christie’s novels. A beautiful book featuring this art (with a foreward by Fowles) entitled Agatha Christie–The Art of Her Crimes is available for sale on our “First Editions” page.
October 7, 2019
November 10th marked the 50-year anniversary of publication of The French Lieutenant’s Woman in the U.S. (it was first published in the UK about five months earlier). It went on to be the best selling novel of John Fowles’ career, spending over a year on the bestseller list and exceeding sales of more than three million copies in the U.S. alone by 1977. Here’s are two interesting articles about TFLW at 50 (the first one you need to paste into your browser, the second you can simply click on):
March 14, 2019
Filming has begun in Lyme Regis on “Ammonite,” a Hollywood production that will focus on the life of the town’s famous fossil hunter Mary Anning. Lyme Regis last hit the big screen in an adaptation of John Fowles’ “The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” which was released in 1981 and received five Academy Award nominations (Fowles also referenced Anning in the novel). Read more about the production here:
August 14, 2018
Here’s an excellent new article about where The Magus currently resides in the public consciousness, and the prospects for an uptick for both it and the oeuvre of John Fowles:
July 10, 2018
A new Limited Edition blu-ray of The Collector will be released in the UK on September 24, featuring a 2K restoration of the film and a variety of new special features. Here’s a link with more details:
June 24, 2018
Here’s an interesting article by British novelist Anthony Horowitz about his visit to Spetses, the Greek island where John Fowles taught for two years in the 1950s (and later used as the model for Phraxos in The Magus):
May 25, 2018
Renowned alternative musician St. Vincent (Annie Clark) recently came out with a list of her all-time favorite books, and The Magus was included among the 34 titles. “I’ve always wanted to make music like people write plays, so I was inspired by writers as much as musicians,” said Clark of her relationship with the written word. Here’s a link to her complete list:
March 3, 2017
The Landmark Trust is now accepting bookings for the second half of 2019 for those interested in staying at Belmont House, John Fowles’ former home in Lyme Regis, England. In addition to the house itself, the property includes a Victorian observatory tower with a revolving roof, and a large wild garden (a favorite of Fowles’) which leads down to an esplanade and pebble beach. From the beach one can walk out onto the Cobb, immortalized by Fowles’ novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman and walked upon by Meryl Streep in the famous opening scene of the film adaptation. For more information, visit the Landmark Trust’s website at:
July 15, 2017
Below is some updated information on Belmont House, the 18th century villa in Lyme Regis, England where John Fowles lived for almost 40 years. The house is now is now open to the public (by advance reservation) for visits and weekend stays:
May 1, 2017
The Magus has just been released for the first time on Blu-ray disc, but only in Region B/2 format (Europe, Greenland, French territories, Middle East, Africa, Australia and New Zealand). In addition to the film, extras on the disc include:
The new release is currently available at www.amazon.co.uk for £10.99.
March 9, 2017
A new play featuring John Fowles’ adaptation of The Lottery of Love by Marivaux premiers at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, SW London on March 30. Here are the details:
January 11, 2017
A new hardbound edition of The Tree, John Fowles’ wonderful meditation on nature and creativity, has just been published in the UK by Little Toller Books. Featuring a forward by William Fiennes and specially commissioned wood engravings, the new edition arrives nearly 40 years after The Tree first appeared in print–speaking to the timeless quality of Fowles’ wonderful long essay. Click here for more details:
November 17, 2016
Some disappointing news regarding “The Unpublished Fiction and Prose of John Fowles,” a four-volume set edited by Gerd Bayer that was scheduled to be published this year. Unfortunately, due to some legal issues, publication has been suspended. If anything new regarding this comes to light, we will of course post updates.
November 9, 2016
Jud Kinberg, who produced the film adaptations of The Collector and The Magus, died on November 2 at the age of 91. Father of X-Men movie producer Simon Kinberg, Jud also produced such stellar films as the Vincent van Gogh biopic Lust for Life, starring Kirk Douglas, and William Holden’s Executive Suite.
Jud became good friends with John Fowles after they worked together in the 1960s on the two film projects based on his novels. In fact, Fowles was the best man at Jud’s 1971 wedding.
On a personal note: I arranged a meeting with Jud about 10 years ago when I discovered he controlled the movie rights to The Magus. After discussing my passion for seeing a new film or miniseries produced that more successfully captured the essence of the novel, he agreed to let me try to put a project together. Many years working toward that goal ultimately did not reach fruition, but Jud was always kind and helpful toward me as I chased this dream.
October 12, 2016
On the most recent episode of the Showtime series Masters of Sex (“Outliers,” Season 4/Episode 5) Virginia Masters attends a book launch party with an editor from Little Brown publishers. The year is 1969, and her goal is to convince the company to publish Masters & Johnson’s new book, Human Sexual Inadequacy–which in real life was in fact published in 1970. The party features a huge display of Little Brown’s original dust jacket for The French Lieutenant’s Woman, which was published in late 1969…this is the book that is being launched at the party. Various scenes during the party are subsequently played out with this as the backdrop.
The French Lieutenant’s Woman was a huge success, ultimately selling more copies in the U.S. in 1970 than any other novel with the exception of Love Story by Erich Segal. It holds up today as a classic and timeless work of fiction, perhaps surpassed in John Fowles’ oeuvre only by The Magus.
September 30, 2016
A new stage version of John Fowles’ novel The Collector, based on the Mark Healy adaptation, will begin an Off-Broadway run on October 26 at the 59E59 Theater in New York City. Click here for more details:
August 6, 2016
An excellent new book entitled Filming John Fowles is now available, featuring eight essays from leading Fowles scholars on the relationship between his writing and cinema. From the publisher:
Filming John Fowles examines for the first time the movie and video adaptations of Fowles’ work, as well as Fowles’ role in adapting his literary genius to visual media. Besides his authorship of the screenplay for The Magus, Fowles was an uncredited contributor to The Collector and The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and to the British television adaptations of The Ebony Tower and The Enigma. His unpublished short story “The Last Chapter” was adapted as a theatrical short film satirizing the James Bond novels. Few are aware that the 1997 thriller The Game was a brilliant adaptation of The Magus, or that Fowles himself acted out scenes from that novel for a Greek television documentary. This book gives deserved recognition to John Fowles as a contributor to cinema, a medium he both loved and distrusted, where his stories acquired vivid alternative lives.
Softbound, 195 pages, edited by renowned Fowles scholar James Aubrey. Available at Amazon.com or directly from the publisher at www.mcfarlandbooks.com.
June 13, 2016
The German John Fowles Society (founded in 2015) is looking for contributions on all aspects of John Fowles’ life and work for the first edition of its yearbook. They welcome academic as well as feuilleton-style texts (including visual material) of 3,000 to 6,000 words that should be submitted by December 31, 2016. The yearbook will be published in e-book form with a print-on-demand option. If interested, please send an abstract of 300 to 400 words by July 31, 2016 to:
Gerd -dot- Bayer -at- fau -dot- de or guido -dot- isekenmeier -at- ilw -dot- uni-stuttgart -dot- de
June 7, 2016
A new stage production of Mark Healy’s adaptation of The Collector will open for a four-week run at The Vaults Theatre in London on August 2, 2016. Here’s a link to more details:
March 2, 2016
German John Fowles Society founded: on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of John Fowles’ death, a number of German Fowles enthusiasts and experts have founded the German John Fowles Society (GJFS). On the initiative of translator Michael Lehmann, the GJFS aims at making the works of Fowles better known (again) in German-speaking Europe, partly by publishing them in translation for the first time. The society will issue a yearbook that collects essays on his texts as well as bio- and bibliographic material. New members or contributors as well as ideas are always welcome. For further information and contact details, please visit the web site shown below.
February 23, 2016
John Fowles is well-known as a seminal British novelist of the post-war period. The works contained in this critical edition are all previously unpublished and comprise novels, short stories, travelogues and film scripts. The edition is supported by full textual apparatus and will appeal to scholars of literature, film studies and postmodernism.
January 6, 2016
Belmont House, the 18th century villa in Lyme Regis, England where John Fowles lived for almost 40 years, will be open to the public at no charge on Saturday, February 13th and Sunday, February 14th between 10am to 4pm. Here are details:
November 5, 2015
Today is the 10th anniversary of the death of John Fowles, who passed away on November 5, 2005 at the age of 79. It’s hard to believe he has been gone for 10 years. On that day the world lost one of its greatest writers, as well as a man devoted to helping illuminate and understand the human condition through his brilliant novels. Hopefully his work will continue to be studied and enjoyed for many generations to come.
August 2, 2015
Roger Rees, a British actor who had the title role in the film adaptation of John Fowles’ novella The Ebony Tower, died recently at the age of 74. Rees played David Williams, a young artist who goes to interview an older painter (Laurence Olivier) who lives in the south of France with two young women. He gets caught up in the painter’s Bohemian lifestyle and begins examining his own attitudes towards life and art.
Although The Ebony Tower is not available as a stand-alone DVD, it is included in the three-disc compilation Laurence Olivier Presents, which features the movie plus filmed versions of five Olivier plays. Here’s an obituary on Rees:
June 10, 2015
important classic and contemporary films, and this will be no exception. The new disc will feature a 2K digital restoration of the film, along with interviews with actors Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep, an episode of The South Bank Show from 1981 featuring director Karel Reisz, novelist John Fowles and screenwriter Harold Pinter, and more. Click here for more details:
March 31, 2015
Happy Birthday, John Fowles! The great man was born 89 years ago on March 31, 1926; he passed away on November 5, 2005 at the age of 79. His wonderful body of work will hopefully entertain, inspire and enlighten many future generations of readers.
February 18, 2015
Blink Theatre is producing John Fowles’ classic novel The Collector, adapted for the stage by Mark Healy, at The Space Theatre in London from March 3-14. The two-person play features Amy Gardyne and Benjamin Victor and is directed by Lotte Johnson, all of whom are recent graduates from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. For more information contact: blink -dot- theatre -at- hotmail -dot- com.
January 11, 2015
Below is a link to a recent New Zealand radio review of The Magus. It’s a very good review, save for the mispronunciation of Magus (it rhymes with “tag” and “us”–that’s how John Fowles himself pronounced it) and Conchis (it’s similar to “conscious,” which I’m sure was no accident).
The same radio program has a glowing review from 2009 of The French Lieutenant’s Woman:
November 25, 2014
Here’s an update on the 4-volume The Unpublished Fiction and Prose of John Fowles, originally scheduled to be published next year but now pushed back to 2016:
October 29, 2014
Restoration continues on Belmont House, John Fowles’ former home in Lyme Regis. Here’s an update:
July 25, 2014
Here’s an excellent article by David Chun, which looks at the ongoing renovations of Belmont House in Lyme Regis within the context of John Fowles’ appreciation of architecture and nature:
June 19, 2014
John Fowles’ masterpiece The Magus has profoundly affected many people over the years. Here’s a singer who has just released a song “inspired by and dedicated to Nicholas Urfe.” Click on the link below to watch the video:
May 21, 2014
A new book of critical essays on John Fowles and his work was recently published: John Fowles, edited by James Acheson and published by Palgrave Macmillan (Modern Novelists series). It features essays on all seven of Fowles’ novels and also takes a look at The Aristos and his other non-fiction writing. Contributors include Fowles scholars James Aubrey, Susana Onega, Katherine Tarbox, Eileen Warburton and Dianne Vipond. Available in hardback and softbound editions on Amazon.
May 1, 2014
Unfortunate news about the destruction of John Fowles’ home at Underhill Farm in Lyme Regis, where he wrote The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Click here for details:
February 20, 2014
A new edition of The Lost Domain by Alain-Fournier, the 1913 novel that John Fowles has said inspired The Magus, was recently published in a Centenary edition by the Oxford University Press. To purchase the 1986 edition that features Fowles’ afterword, click here; For more information on the new edition, click on the link below:
January 23, 2014
Among the many interests of John Fowles was the sport of cricket. Here’s a wonderful story about Fowles, the uniquely-British game, and a surprise visitor:
December 9, 2013
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Collector, John Fowles’ brilliant first novel which served as a forerunner to many famous books (such as Silence of the Lambs), movies and television shows with similar themes. In honor of the occasion, here is a link to the original New York Times review of The Collector:
November 8, 2013
Work has begun on the restoration of Belmont House, the home in Lyme Regis where John Fowles lived from 1968-2005. The goal is to turn the building into a public landmark that will be available for holiday rentals and hosting events for creative writing students. Read more here:
October 27, 2013
The Bridport Prize, an international writing competition based in Dorset in the United Kingdom, recently presented its annual awards. John Fowles was the first patron of the prize, and here’s a link to an article on the awards which includes information about Fowles’ support.
September 5, 2013
Work continues on a project to restore Belmont House–John Fowles’ long-time home in Lyme Regis–for use as a holiday rental and a residential center for young writers. Here are links to two recent articles with the latest news on the project:
August 22, 2013
A new book entitled Writers in Conversation–Volume 5 by Christopher Bigsby features interviews with the world’s greatest writers from a decade of the Arthur Miller Centre’s International Literary Festival at the University of East Anglia. Included is a never-before published interview with John Fowles from 1992. The 12-page interview is very interesting and features Fowles speaking about his youth, his approach to writing novels, the inspiration behind some of his most famous works such as The Magus and The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and much more.
The book features interviews with 26 well-known authors, including those who show a Fowlesian influence such as Ian McEwan and Donna Tartt. Here is a link to the book on Amazon:
July 16, 2013
A new stage production of The Collector will be presented in Collingwood, Australia from July 24 through August 3. Here are the details:
June 10, 2013
Kelly Cresap, without question the worldwide authority on John Fowles’ novel Daniel Martin, has just had an essay about the book published by the literary journal Texas Studies in Literature and Language. The essay addresses a scholarly audience, and Kelly has condensed some of the main ideas into a 14-minute podcast for a general audience. Listen to it here:
For a transcript of the podcast, visit the “Daniel Martin” topic board on the Discussion Board.
May 16, 2013
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of John Fowles’ first novel, The Collector. Hailed as the first modern psychological thriller, it catapulted Fowles to the top of the bestseller lists in England and the U.S., and provided the financial security that allowed him to quit his teaching job and become a full-time writer. The Collector established Fowles’ reputation as a writer of what The British Sunday Times called “great imaginative power.” The rest, of course, is history. Here’s a link to the book’s original review in the New York Times:
May 5, 2013
Controversy continues to swirl around the proposed restoration of John Fowles’ former home in Lyme Regis–Belmont House–into a public landmark. Sarah Fowles, the widow of John, is not pleased with how things are proceeding. Click here for more:
April 28, 2013
A Romanian-UK theater production of The Collector will be performed at the Notting Hill Mayfest in London on May 17 and 18. Here’s a link for more information:
February 11, 2013
“An Afternoon Celebrating the Work of John Fowles” will be held Friday, March 23 at the Oxford Literary Festival in Oxford, England. Here’s a link to more information:
January 22, 2013
The great British writer Ian McEwan, who exhibits many Fowlesian qualities in his fiction (not the least of which is the incredible intelligence of his writing) paid homage to John Fowles in Sweet Tooth, his new novel. At one point the heroine and her lover are discussing novels that they have enjoyed:
“Without leaving the chair he stretched forward and picked up John Fowles’s The Magus and said he admired parts of that, as well as all of The Collector and The French Lieutenant’s Woman.”
If you scroll down this page to the April 29, 2010 entry, you’ll see that McEwan has spoken before about his appreciation for Fowles’ work, and the influence it has had upon his own.
December 31, 2012
Happy New Year to all John Fowles fans around the world! In honor of the great man, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to re-read one of his novels that I haven’t picked up in many years (leaning towards The Ebony Tower). And for those of you who have yet to read The Magus, you have a wondrous experience awaiting you.
December 4, 2012
Big news regarding unpublished work by John Fowles. In 2015, Pickering & Chatto Publishers (of London) will issue a massive four-volume set entitled “The Unpublished Fiction and Prose of John Fowles.” It will include his early travel writings, short fiction and film scripts, unfinished fiction and–most excitingly–a complete thriller novel entitled “The Device.” Here are the details:
October 10, 2012
An audio book version of The Magus is now available, complete and unabridged. Narrated by Nicholas Boulton, it comes in a package of 21 compact discs. Find it for download on Amazon, or locate retailers selling the actual set of CDs by Googling “The Magus + Nicholas Boulton.”
August 28, 2012
Here’s a link to a nice “appreciation” of The Magus by novelist Nick Dybek on NPR:
August 19, 2012
The Magus was released for the first time on DVD in the U.S. in 2006 (Region 1)…it has never been released in the UK in Region 2 format. The U.S. DVD is now out of print and very difficult to obtain. However, we now have brand new factory-sealed copies in stock. Click here if you would like to order one (then scroll down to “Movie Adaptations” on the left).
July 23, 2012
June 30, 2012
The film version of The Collector is now available on blu-ray in a stunning new digital transfer. It is currently being offered in only the NTSC Region 1 North American format, so those in Europe and elsewhere will need a multi-region player. For a comprehensive review of the new blu-ray disc, click here:
May 21, 2012
book’s editor, poet and novelist Adam Thorpe, will read from and discuss the book, put together from an extensive collection of material dating from the 1950s and created throughout Fowles’ lifetime. Refreshments will be served and the book will be available for purchase; admission is free. Please RSVP to editor -at- flambardpress -dot- co -dot- uk if you plan to attend.
To read more about the new book, click here.
May 17, 2012
For anyone thinking of planning a trip to Lyme Regis and checking out some of John Fowles’ old haunts, here’s a useful link to some visitor information:
March 31, 2012
Happy Birthday, John Fowles! The great man was born 86 years ago on March 31, 1926; he passed away on November 5, 2005 at the age of 79. His fabulous body of work will hopefully endure for many centuries.
March 26, 2012
Here’s an update on the effort to restore Belmont House, John Fowles’ long-time home in Lyme Regis. Apparently his widow Sarah is not at all happy with how things are going:
March 9, 2012
An effort is underway to raise £2.1 million for the restoration of Belmont House, John Fowles’ long-time home in Lyme Regis. Here’s a link to the story:
February 23, 2012
Update on the new book of John Fowles poetry entitled “Selected Poems.” According to Amazon, it is scheduled to be published on May 31, 2012.
December 15, 2011
A new book of poetry by John Fowles entitled “Selected Poems” will be published in the Spring of 2012 by Flambard Press, a small British publisher. Fowles began writing poetry in the 1940s before turning to fiction, and continued writing poems throughout his life. His only previously published book of poems, simply entitled “Poems,” was published in 1973. More details on the forthcoming book as they become available.
November 26, 2011
The Lymiad, an anonymous poem written in 1818, has long been one of the most highly-prized possessions of the Lyme Regis Philpot Museum. During the 1980s when John Fowles was curator of the museum, he made a transcript of the poem, prepared a general introduction and some explanatory notes on local references, and cherished hopes of its publication. Unfortunately, he passed away before this could happen.
Fowles’ dream has become a reality with the publication of his manuscript, designed as it might have appeared if it had been published in 1819. It includes: an essay by Fowles on “Lyme in the early 1800s”; a transcription of the text, with editorial notes by Fowles; and illustrations from the Museum’s rich collection.
To order a copy, call the museum at 01297 444463, or e-mail at curator -at- lymeregismuseum -dot- co -dot- uk. Here’s a link to a recent article of the new publication:
September 22, 2011
Here’s a link to an article about Natalie Manifold, who conducts walks in Lyme Regis through The Undercliff and other locations made famous by The French Lieutenant’s Woman:
August 17, 2011
Here’s a spot for all John Fowles fans to check out if they visit Lyme Regis, his home town for many years:
July 12, 2011
Plans to renovate John Fowles’ former house in Lyme Regis into a holiday home continue. The West Dorset District Council has approved internal and external alterations at Belmont House on Pound Street, which is a listed building, including structural repair to the front elevation, south roof and chimney, demolishing remnants of the east and west wings, reinstating original window arrangements on the south and east elevations and converting the stable block.
July 1, 2011
A new literature guide for The French Lieutenant’s Woman does an outstanding job of summarizing the novel, analyzing various themes, discussing the form and structure of the prose, and offering advice on how to respond to possible examination questions. Written by Martin Old and published by Philip Allan, the book features 94 pages and is very attractively formatted. Contents include:
- Synopsis of the novel
- Chapter summaries and commentaries
- Characters and themes
- Form, structure and language
- Working with the text
- Related resources
This is a very well designed book that will definitely enhance the reader’s understanding of Fowles’ great novel. It is available from Amazon and other on-line booksellers.
June 13, 2011
A book entitled John Fowles–Naturalist of Lyme Regis by Robert Huffaker, originally published in 1980, is now available via “Print-on-Demand” ($19.95 on Amazon). Here’s a link to more information about it:
June 2, 2011
Here is a link to an interesting article about Alain-Fournier, author of Le Grand Meaulnes (The Lost Domain), the 1913 novel that John Fowles, in the afterward to an English translation of the book, calls “one of the most famous private thunderbolts in the history of love.” Fowles has said the this novel was a major influence on his writing of The Magus:
April 26, 2011
More on John Fowles’ writing desk which was recently donated to the Harry Ransom Center in Texas…click below to see what was in it when he passed away:
March 31, 2011
Happy Birthday, John Fowles! The great man was born 85 years ago, in 1926…he passed away on November 5, 2005 at the age of 79. Perhaps this would be a good time to revisit The Magus…
March 25, 2011
The Last Chapter, a 30-minute short film based on an unpublished short story by John Fowles, is now available in the UK on DVD. Directed by David Tringham, it stars the fine British character actor Denholm Elliott as a middle-aged Ian Fleming style thriller writer whose visions of his fantasy novels feature him pursuing a secret agent. The Last Chapter has never been available on video or DVD until now. Click here for more details.
February 17, 2011
The largest collection of John Fowles first editions, manuscripts, etc. is archived at the University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center (which also features the archives of several other major writers). Here’s a link to a photo of some Fowles items that will soon be on display at the Center’s Reading and Viewing Room. Click on the link and scroll down to the fifth photo:
January 15, 2011
Here’s an update on the disagreement that has broken out between two major conservation charities over the £2million plans to restore Belmont House, John Fowles’ former home in Lyme Regis:
December 26, 2010
The Paris Review has recently opened their online interview archive to the public. This includes a 1989 session with John Fowles, which can be accessed here:
December 7, 2010
A disagreement has broken out between two major conservation charities over the £2million plans to restore John Fowles’ former Lyme Regis home. Read about it here:
November 5, 2010
Today is the fifth anniversary of the death of John Fowles, who passed away on November 5, 2005 at the age of 79. It’s hard to believe he has been gone for five years. Unfortunately, I think he would be appalled by the current state of the world–particularly the recent U.S. election, and what is going on with the environment. The world is in desperate need of more intelligent and clear-thinking people in the mold of John Fowles.
<pOctober 19, 2010
A poll of 2,000 readers in the UK has rated The Collector as the 5th scariest book of all time, trailing only The Silence of the Lambs, Dracula, The Shining and American Psycho. Here are the details:
October 10, 2010
John Fowles is receiving some glowing new reviews for The Tree, will was recently re-issued in a 30th anniversary edition by Ecco Press. Here’s a very good one:
And here’s an interview with Barry Lopez, who wrote the introduction to the new edition:
September 25, 2010
Here’s an interesting blog entry from an individual who recalls briefly meeting with John Fowles as a young man after a reading, and their ensuing conversation about The Collector:
August 31, 2010
John Fowles’ famous long essay, The Tree, will be published in a 30th anniversary edition by Ecco Press on September 28. From the publisher:
“First published a generation ago, The Tree is a provocative meditation on the connection between the natural world and human creativity, and a powerful argument against taming the wild. In it, Fowles recounts his own childhood in England and describes how he rebelled against his Edwardian father’s obsession with the ‘quantifiable yield’ of well-pruned fruit trees and came to prize instead the messy, purposeless beauty of nature left to its wildest. The Tree is an inspiring, even life-changing book, like Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, one that reaffirms our connection to nature and reminds us of the pleasure of getting lost, the merits of having no plan, and the wisdom of following one’s nose wherever it may lead—in life as much as in art.”
August 1, 2010
Here’s an excellent new blog posting on John Fowles’ decision to follow the mega-success of his first book, The Collector, with his book of philosophical musings entitled The Aristos:
July 19, 2010
Looking for a good summer read? Check out “Le Grand Meaulnes” (English title “The Lost Domain” or “The Wanderer”), a major influence on Fowles’ masterpiece The Magus. The only novel written by Alain-Fournier (who died fighting for France in World War I at the age of 28), according to Fowles “it belongs to, and is the finest example of, a category of fiction that has no name, but exists. French Classic young man coming of age.” It’s a mesmerizing read, with clear undertones of The Magus throughout.
June 27, 2010
Here’s an update about the ongoing plans to turn Belmont House, John Fowles’ long-time home in Lyme Regis, into a Landmark Trust site open to the public:
June 9, 2010
The Lyme Regis Philpot Museum is planning to publish a manuscript put together by John Fowles that is based on The Lymiad, an anonymous poem written in 1818. During the 1980s when John Fowles was curator of the Lyme Regis Philpot Museum, he made a transcript of the poem, prepared a general introduction and some explanatory notes on local references, and cherished hopes of its publication. Unfortunately, he passed away before this could happen. The Museum has secured grants towards the cost of production from charitable foundations and other donors; to complete the task of publishing the manuscript, they need 100 subscribers at £20 per volume. All those who subscribe will have their names recorded in the publication itself.
Update: about 70 subscriptions have been received, so 30 more or needed. For more information or to subscribe, click here:
May 26, 2010
Lyme Regis fossil hunter Mary Anning has been acclaimed as the third most influential female scientist in British history, and also was a secret inspiration for John Fowles. Fowles wrote about Anning and help bring to light her many scientific accomplishments during the early part of the 19th century; in addition, he claimed she inspired the character Sarah Woodruff in The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Click here for the whole story:
April 29, 2010
Recently had a chance to see the great British author Ian McEwan on tour in San Francisco to promote his new novel. During the book signing afterwards, got to chat with him for a minute and of course asked him his opinion of John Fowles. He said that he read The Collector when he was first trying to become a novelist and that it had a profound impact (no surprise there). He also expressed his admiration for The French Lieutenant’s Woman. By the way, for those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading McEwan, pick up Enduring Love…it will knock your socks off.
March 31, 2010
Happy Birthday, John Fowles! The great writer was born on this day, 1926, in Leigh-on-Sea, a small town located about 40 miles from London in the county of Essex, England.
March 28, 2010
Walking tours that explore the literary landscape of Lyme Regis are now available, focusing on John Fowles and Jane Austen. The Fowles tour explores the areas of Lyme Regis that inspired The French Lieutenant’s Woman; here is an itinerary:
“Take a walk to Fowles’ recent home, Belmont House, and then follow the sunlit cliff tops to the Undercliff nature reserve which forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tour includes sites featured in the novel and film, but the best is left till last. We visit the secluded farmhouse that Fowles adored and in which he wrote The French Lieutenant’s Woman. We explore the grounds as Fowles would have done, reading and discussing excerpts from his novel and diaries.”
For more information, visit the following site: www.literarylyme.co.uk
February 26, 2010
John Fowles enthusiasts will be able to participate in the production of a new publication that was near and dear to Fowles’ heart. The Lymiad, an anonymous poem written in 1818, has long been one of the most highly-prized possessions of the Lyme Regis Philpot Museum. During the 1980s when John Fowles was curator of the museum, he made a transcript of the poem, prepared a general introduction and some explanatory notes on local references, and cherished hopes of its publication. Unfortunately, he passed away before this could happen.
Fowles’ dream will hopefully soon become reality with the publication of his manuscript, designed as it might have appeared if it had been published in 1819. It will consist of some 200 pages, soft-back but with stitched pages and card covers marbled in the Regency manner. It will include: an essay by Fowles on “Lyme in the early 1800s”; a transcription of the text, with editorial notes by Fowles; and illustrations from the Museum’s rich collection. The Museum has already secured grants towards the cost of production from charitable foundations and other donors. To complete the task of publishing the manuscript, they need 100 subscribers at £20 per volume. All those who subscribe will have their names recorded in the publication itself.
February 13, 2010
A stage adaptation of The Collector is currently running at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica, California. Playwright Mark Healy adapted Fowles’ novel for the stage, and this performance will run through March 6. More information at (310) 397-3244.
January 30, 2010
The passing of J.D. Salinger inevitably brings to mind The Collector, for two reasons. First, both books were unfortunately linked over the years to deranged killers, who in their own twisted way used the novels for inspiration. More specifically, in The Collector the kidnapped Miranda gives Clegg a copy of Catcher in the Rye to read, but he cannot understand why Miranda likes the novel. “I don’t see much point in it,” Clegg tells her, completely missing the point that in his own way, he is an outsider much like Holden Caulfield.
January 17, 2010
Just came across a link on the web about a novel called “Epiphany” by David Hewson, a contemporary British author of crime and mystery novels. The review of the book characterized it as “John Fowles on acid”(!). I’m curious if anyone has read the book, and if so what they think.
January 1, 2010
We’ll start the New Year off with an interesting quote from John Fowles, which I think not only applies to how too many people lead their lives, but also to the current unhappy state of affairs in the world. This is actually something Conchis says to Nicholas in The Magus:
“You are like a porcupine. When the animal has its spines erect, it cannot eat. If you do not eat, you will starve. And your prickles will die with the rest of your body.”
December 20, 2009
A controversy recently arose in Lyme Regis, John Fowles’ home for many years, regarding a footpath that has been created in his memory near Belmont House, his former home. Read about it here:
November 23, 2009
Here’s a link to a nice site for anyone who might be considering a trip to Lyme Regis, England, long-time home to John Fowles and setting for The French Lieutenant’s Woman. It includes information about The Philpot Museum, which now features an exhibit on Fowles in its “Writers Gallery.”
November 10, 2009
The French Lieutenant’s Woman was published in the U.S. exactly 40 years ago, on November 10, 1969. It was immediately hailed by critics as a masterpiece, and was a huge bestseller (much to Fowles’ surprise). Only one other novel outsold it in the U.S. in 1970–Love Story by Erich Segal. Here’s the original Time Magazine review from 1969:
October 28, 2009
Here’s an interesting blog by a writer of children’s books that does a good job of capturing the magical experience of reading The Magus for the first time.
October 16, 2009
A link recently became available that provides an audio archive of John Fowles’ appearance in San Francisco in 1998 during the Wormholes tour (his final tour of the U.S.). Be aware that Fowles was tired during this interview, and the effects of his stroke from the previous decade are quite apparent in his speech. UPDATE: the audio at the link below has been taken down…hopefully it will be available again soon.
October 4, 2009
Belmont House, the Lyme Regis home that John Fowles lived in for many years, is now under the control of Britain’s Landmark Trust. The organization is currently reviewing options on how to develop it into a landmark building. For more information, click on the following link:
September 24, 2009
For better or worse, there is now a “John Fowles” page on Facebook. At this point it mostly consists of individuals talking about their favorite Fowles novels. It is gratifying to see 1,305 fans currently registered to the site! Here’s a link:
September 11, 2009
We recently came across a very interesting article in the archives of the London Telegraph (August, 2003). It is by author Tim Lott and recounts his visit to the Greek island of Spétses, where John Fowles taught in the early 1950s. Spétses subsequently served as the model for Phraxos, the island setting of The Magus. Here is the link:
September 3, 2009
Ray Roberts, John Fowles’ editor in the U.S. for many years, died August 12 in New York at the age of 71. Roberts, who worked for several publishers including Macmillan, Doubleday, Little Brown, Henry Holt and Viking, also edited heavyweights such as Ansel Adams and Thomas Pynchon. At one time Roberts owned the most extensive collection of John Fowles first editions in the world; he sold it a few years ago to the University of Texas at Austin, where it now resides with the John Fowles Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center.
Ray was an extremely interesting and erudite individual who developed a strong friendship with John Fowles over the years (his favorite Fowles novel was Daniel Martin). He was a major player in the New York literary scene, and counted among his close friends Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis when she worked for Doubleday. He will be greatly missed by all of us who knew him.
August 30, 2009
Our friend Ellis Sharp currently has some wonderful Fowles-related photos on his blog, including some that were taken during a recent trip to Lyme Regis. Also featured is a series of photos showing the homes in Hampstead and Highgate where Fowles and his wife lived during the decade 1954-64. Click the following link for the latter, and then the individual archives on the right for the Lyme photos:
August 21, 2009
A new DVD version of The French Lieutenant’s Woman is expected to be released by Criterion sometime next year. Using the best available source materials, the company produces technologically improved versions of classic films. Starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons, The French Lieutenant’s Woman was released theatrically in 1981 and nominated for five academy awards.