top of page

John Wyndham Author Profile: John C Adams Reviews

John Wyndham was an English writer of science fiction and horror in the Fifties.

John Wyndham wrote under various names, including John Beynon and Lucas Parkes. When your full name is John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris you’ve plenty of inspiration when it comes to choosing pen names.

He initially wrote short stories for genre-fiction magazines and his first published novel was actually a detective novel. After World War Two, returning from active service in Europe, he changed his writing style to make it more in line with science fiction writing and widespread success followed in 1951.

His best-known novel is probably The Day of the Triffids. It has been adapted for film, radio and television multiple times, most recently in 2009. My favourite adaptation was shown during my childhood. There’s something about fiction and TV shows from our childhood years that stay with you, and the 1981 BBC version of The Day of the Triffids is no exception.

John Wyndham’s 1957 science-fiction novel The Midwich Cuckoos has also proved a popular source of inspiration for film and TV. There’s something about an alien incursion in a quintessential, sleepy English village that grabs the imagination. The most recent TV adaptation is from Sky and it stars Keeley Hawes and Samuel West. I loved it. Before that, the book was filmed twice as Village of the Damned. There have also been three radio adaptations.

The Kraken Wakes has never made it into film or TV, something that really saddens me given that it’s one of my favourite novels, though is continues to be popular for radio performance. It has been licensed for use in video gaming, with the game due for release late in 2022.

Many John Wyndham novels feature an alien threat arriving on Earth. Yet, one of his earliest novel, Stowaway to Mars (published 1936 as ‘Planet Plane’) describes a manned flight to Mars.

John Wyndham fans greeted the discovery of a hitherto unknown manuscript of a full-length novel with great excitement. That Plan for Chaos saw the light of day at all is testament to the tireless work of Andy Sawyer and David Ketterer. John Wyndham’s papers are held at the John Wyndham Archive in Liverpool University, UK. It was in this treasure trove that they found the manuscript. It was published by Liverpool University Press in 2009 on the fortieth anniversary of John Wyndham’s death, edited by Sawyer and Ketterer.

Plan for Chaos wasn’t the first John Wyndham novel to be published posthumously. ‘Web’ was published in 1979, ten years after his death. The long-term effects of nuclear radiation and the tests of atom bombs in the Fifties and Sixties haunt John Wyndham’s fiction, from The Chrysalids to ‘Web’.

John Wyndham is best known as a writer of novels, but he also wrote many short stories. ‘Consider Her Ways and Other Stories’ is one of five collections published in his lifetime, with a further six published after his death.

John Wyndham married his long-term partner Grace Wilson late in life and the couple had no children. This was in part a response to the marriage bar, which would have required Grace to give up her work as a teacher if she married.

However, John Wyndham was fascinated by the concept of marriage and the thinking that lay behind a couple’s decision to have children. Some of his books feature romance that leads a couple to form families under very unusual circumstances. I explore these themes in his work in my article ‘Family in the Horror Fiction of John Wyndham’.

Here’s a list of John Wyndham’s full-length works:

The Day of the Triffids (1951)

The Kraken Wakes (1953)

The Chrysalids (1955)

The Midwich Cuckoos (1957)

The Outward Urge (1959)

Trouble with Lichen (1960)

Chocky (1968)

Web (1979)

Plan for Chaos (2009)

He also published various volumes of short stories, including Jizzle (1954) and The Seeds of Time (1956).

John Wyndham

You can read my reviews of some of his novels here:

Stowaway to Mars

The Kraken Wakes

The Midwich Cuckoos

The Chrysalids

Please consider donating a small amount to John C Adams Reviews if you have enjoyed the reviews and articles you have seen today,

PayPal ButtonPayPal Button
bottom of page