From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
James Thomas Farrell (February
27, 1904 - August 22, 1979) was an American
novelist. One of his most famous works was the Studs
Lonigan trilogy, which was
made into a film in 1960 and into a television miniseries in 1979. The trilogy
was voted number 29 on the Modern
Library's list of the 100 best novels of the 20th century.
Farrell was born in Chicago,
Illinois, to a large Irish-American family which included siblings Earl,
Joseph, Helen, John and Mary. In addition, there were several other siblings
who died in childbirth, as well as one who died from the influenza epidemic in
1917. Farrell attended Mt.
Carmel High School, then known as St. Cyril, with future
Anthony Parker. He then later attended the University
of Chicago. He began writing when he was 21 years old. A novelist,
journalist, and short story writer known for his realistic portraits of the
working class South
Side Irish, especially in the novels about the character Studs Lonigan.
Farrell based his writing on his own experiences.
Among the writers who acknowledged Farrell as an inspiration was Norman
"Mr. Mailer intended to major in aeronautical engineering, but by the time
he was a sophomore, he had fallen in love with literature. He spent the
summer reading and rereading James T. Farrell's “Studs Lonigan,” John
Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” and John Dos Passos’s “U.S.A.,” and he began,
or so he claimed, to set himself a daily quota of 3,000 words of his own, on
the theory that this was the way to get bad writing out of his system. By
1941 he was sufficiently purged to win the Story magazine prize for best
short story written by an undergraduate."
Farrell was also active in Trotskyist politics
and joined the Socialist
Workers Party (SWP). He came to agree with Albert
Goldman and Felix
Morrows' criticism of the SWP and Fourth
International leaderships. With
Goldman, he left the group in 1946 to join the Workers'
Within the Workers' Party, Goldman and Farrell worked closely. In 1948, they
developed criticisms of its policies, claiming that the party should support
Plan and also Norman
Thomas' presidential candidacy.
Having come to believe that only capitalism could defeat Stalinism,
they left to join the Socialist
Party of America. In the late 1960s, disenchanted with the political
"center", while impressed with the SWP's involvement in the Civil Rights and
US anti-Vietnam War movements, he reestablished contact with his former
comrades of two decades earlier. Farrell attended one or more SWP-sponsored
Militant Forum events (probably in NYC), but never rejoined the Trotskyist
Farrell was married twice. His first wife was Dorothy Butler. His second wife
(from 1941 to 1955 when they divorced) was stage actress Hortense
Alden. He and Alden had two sons, Kevin and John.