Study Guide

James Hanley

James Hanley Biography

Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

James Hanley was born on September 3, 1901, in Dublin, Ireland. Early in life, he moved with his family to Liverpool, England, where he grew up. Hanley’s father, Edward Hanley, gave up a promising career in law for a life at sea, thereby grievously disappointing his mother; James Hanley was strongly counseled by his grandmother not to go to sea. The advice fell on deaf ears, however, and he left school at age fourteen and went to sea as a shipboy. Some of this experience undoubtedly provided him with the raw material for his novel Boy.{$S[A]Shone, Patric;Hanley, James}

During Hanley’s first transatlantic voyage, World War I broke out, and for two years he worked on troopships transporting soldiers across the Mediterranean. Hollow Sea draws upon this phase of his life and portrays the intensity of life on troopships during hazardous missions. At age sixteen, Hanley deserted his ship on a stopover in St. John’s, New Brunswick, Canada. He lied about his age, took on a name randomly selected from a telephone directory, and joined the Canadian army. After training in Canada and in England, he served in France. When he was discharged from the army and returned to England, he settled down with his parents in Liverpool.

Hanley was deeply affected by a Liverpool encounter with an old sailor friend to whom he had entrusted a letter to his mother. The letter had contained some money, and the friend had taken the money and thrown...

(The entire section is 546 words.)

James Hanley Biography (Survey of Novels and Novellas)

James Hanley was born on September 3, 1901, in Dublin, Ireland. Early in life, he moved with his family to Liverpool, England, where he grew up. Hanley’s father, Edward Hanley, gave up a promising career in law for a life at sea, thereby grievously disappointing his mother; James Hanley was strongly counseled by his grandmother not to go to sea. The advice fell on deaf ears, however, and he left school at age fourteen and went to sea as a ship boy. Some of this experience undoubtedly provided him with the raw material for his novel Boy.

During Hanley’s first transatlantic voyage, war broke out, and for two years he worked on troopships transporting soldiers across the Mediterranean to Salonika, Greece, and Gallipoli, Turkey. Hollow Sea draws upon this phase of his life and portrays the intensity of life on troopships during hazardous missions. At age sixteen, Hanley deserted his ship on a stopover in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. He lied about his age, took on a name randomly selected from a telephone directory, and joined the Canadian army. After training in Canada and in England, he served in France. When he was discharged from the army and returned to England, he settled down with his parents in Liverpool.

In his autobiography, Hanley writes, “I had finished with the sea. I had finished with the army. I had had practically no education.” He had seen the ugly and brutal face of war and survived the trauma. In Liverpool, he came across an old sailor friend to whom he had entrusted a letter to his mother with some money. The friend had taken the money and thrown away the letter, an incident that deeply affected Hanley. He made no more friends, and for the next ten years, he kept to himself like a hermit. He found a new personal meaning in the advice “never trust a friend,” from August Strindberg’s play Bränea Tomten (1907; After the Fire: Or, The Burned...

(The entire section is 790 words.)