Angus (Frank Johnstone) Wilson 1913–
English novelist, short story writer, essayist, and critic.
Wilson is one of the most important English novelists of the postwar years. Seen as a group, his works form a chronicle of social changes that have taken place within English society in the twentieth century. Although often extremely funny, they also contain serious critiques of that society. Wilson's subjects are usually failed or wasted lives, individuals whose crises reflect the disintegration of a larger way of life.
While not a great innovator, Wilson has experimented over the years in narrative form. He began with portraits of upper-middle-class society in his short story collections The Wrong Set and Other Stories and Such Darling Dodos. In his early novels Wilson stayed within the tradition of English realism, varying his characters and experimenting with point of view. In his later novels Wilson moved away from traditionalism, presenting a contemporary fable that blends realism and fantasy in The Old Men at the Zoo, a generational family saga in No Laughing Matter, and a highly complex symbolical novel in his recent Setting the World on Fire. In this work, critics note a successful organizational design, a moving work of social criticism, and a dramatic force that emphasizes Wilson's theatricality. Although few critics consider this a completely satisfying novel, many believe that Setting the World on Fire is a testament to Wilson's importance to contemporary literature.
(See also CLC, Vols. 2, 3, 5; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 5-8, rev. ed.; and Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 15.)