(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Frank (Arthur) Swinnerton 1884–1982

English novelist, critic, and biographer.

Swinnerton's reputation as a writer rests on his chronicles of the activities and concerns of the Georgian movement in English literature, which began with the onset of the First World War and lasted into the 1940s. His penchant for amusing detail, which often lends a gossipy quality to his work, contributes to the comprehensive literary portraits he created.

In his novels Swinnerton stressed realism and clear, detailed characterizations, projecting his pragmatic view of life. Of his more than forty novels, Nocturne (1917) is generally considered the best. Critics have praised its nearly flawless structure, convincing characterizations, and Swinnerton's compassion in depicting a harsh and disappointing world. His last novel, Some Achieve Greatness (1976), reveals that even past the age of ninety Swinnerton upheld the same artistic and moral positions evident in his earliest works.

Swinnerton's The Georgian Literary Scene (1934) is often cited as an important critical history of this era in English literature. In this large volume. Swinnerton offers insightful descriptions of the Georgian circle of writers, tempering his insider's viewpoint with objectivity. The Georgian Literary Scene provides intimate sketches of such writers as G. K. Chesterton, A. A. Milne, Arnold Bennett, and Hilaire Belloc, Swinnerton's subsequent literary memoirs, Swinnerton: An Autobiography (1936) and Figures in the Foreground (1963), which include information and personalities of the post-Georgian period, exhibit the same confident ease of presentation which makes The Georgian Literary Scene enjoyable reading.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vol. 108 [obituary].)