Tramps & Free Stuff


[Galsworthy] is now far better known for his novels, particularly The Forsyte Saga, his trilogy about the eponymous family and connected lives. These books, as with many of his other works, deal with social class, upper-middle class lives in particular. Although sympathetic to his characters, he highlights their insular, snobbish, and acquisitive attitudes and their suffocating moral codes. He is viewed as one of the first writers of the Edwardian era who challenged some of the ideals of society depicted in the preceding literature of Victorian England. The depiction of a woman in an unhappy marriage furnishes another recurring theme in his work. The character of Irene in The Forsyte Saga is drawn from Ada Pearson, though her previous marriage was not as miserable as that of the character.

That infallible source

Through his writings Galsworthy 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 PEN International literary club in 1921, was appointed to the Order of Merit in 1929 — after having turned down a knighthood, nominated by Prime Minister David Lloyd George in 1917, on the precept that a writer’s reward comes simply from writing itself[5] — and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1932 after he had been nominated that year by Henrik Schück, member of the Swedish Academy.[6]

As an aside, in a junk/used book/antique store, the price of The Forsyte Sage indicates to me how much the proprietors know about the value of ordinary old books. I’m not inclined to research how many copies were printed. But if you run an establishment that thinks that a best selling book published at the turn of the last century and reprinted and reprinted and reprinted again is worth $20… well you don’t know what you’re talking about. See also bookstores in the French Quarter and Julia Childs.

Originally published at on July 28, 2016; edited here.