James T. Farrell

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James T. Farrell
James T. Farrell 1950s.jpg
James T. Farrell in the 1950s
BornJames Thomas Farrell
(1904-02-27)February 27, 1904
Chicago, Illinois
DiedAugust 22, 1979(1979-08-22) (aged 75)
New York City
Notable works Studs Lonigan

James Thomas Farrell (February 27, 1904 – August 22, 1979) was an American novelist, short-story writer and poet.

A novelist is an author or writer of novels, though often novelists also write in other genres of both fiction and non-fiction. Some novelists are professional novelists, thus make a living writing novels and other fiction, while others aspire to support themselves in this way or write as an avocation. Most novelists struggle to get their debut novel published, but once published they often continue to be published, although very few become literary celebrities, thus gaining prestige or a considerable income from their work.

Poet person who writes and publishes poetry

A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their art to an audience.


He is most remembered for the Studs Lonigan trilogy, which was made into a film in 1960 and a television series in 1979.

<i>Studs Lonigan</i> novel trilogy by James T. Farrell

Studs Lonigan is a novel trilogy by American author James T. Farrell: Young Lonigan (1932), The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan (1934), and Judgment Day (1935). In 1998, the Modern Library ranked the Studs Lonigan trilogy at 29th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

A trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected, and that can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works. They are commonly found in literature, film, and video games, and are less common in other art forms. Three-part works that are considered components of a larger work also exist, such as the triptych or the three-movement sonata, but they are not commonly referred to with the term "trilogy".


Farrell was born in Chicago, to a large Irish-American family which included siblings Earl, Joseph, Helen, John and Mary. In addition, there were several other siblings who died during childbirth, as well as one who died from the great 1918 flu pandemic. His father was a teamster, and his mother a domestic servant. His parents were too poor to provide for him, and he went to live with his grandparents when he was three years old. [1] Farrell attended Mt. Carmel High School, then known as St. Cyril, with future Egyptologist Richard 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, he was known for his realistic descriptions of the working class South Side Irish, especially in the novels about the character Studs Lonigan. Farrell based his writing on his own experiences, particularly those that he included in his celebrated "Danny O'Neill Pentology" series of five novels.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, and the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States, and the fourth largest in North America and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Teamster profession

A teamster, in modern American English, is a truck driver, or a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a labor union in the United States and Canada.

Mount Carmel High School (Chicago) Catholic high school in Chicago, Illinois, USA

Mount Carmel High School is an all boys, Catholic high school in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood. Located in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, the school has been operated by the Carmelite order of priests and brothers since 1900. Several priests and brothers who teach at the school live in the nearby Saint Cyril Priory, though most of the staff consists of lay teachers.

Among the writers who acknowledged Farrell as an inspiration was Norman Mailer:

Norman Mailer American novelist, journalist, essayist, playwright, film maker, actor and political candidate

Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, playwright, film-maker, actor, and liberal political activist. His novel The Naked and the Dead was published in 1948 and brought him renown. His 1968 nonfiction novel Armies of the Night won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction as well as the National Book Award. His best-known work is widely considered to be The Executioner's Song, the 1979 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In over six decades of work, Mailer had eleven best selling books in each of the seven decades after World War II—more than any other post-war American writer.

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. [2]


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 management. With Goldman, he ended his participation with the group in 1946 to join the Workers' Party.

Albert Goldman (politician) American lawyer

Albert Goldman (1897–1960) was a Belorussian-born American political and civil rights lawyer, closely associated with the American communist movement. Goldman broke with the mainline Communist Party, USA in 1933, joining the Trotskyist opposition, in which he would be a leading participant for the better part of the next two decades. Goldman is best remembered as a defendant and lead defense attorney in the 1941 Smith Act prosecution of the leadership of the Socialist Workers Party.

Felix Morrow American politician

Felix Morrow was an American communist political activist and newspaper editor. In later years, Morrow left the world of politics to become a book publisher. He is best remembered as a factional leader of the American Trotskyist movement.

Fourth International international organisation

The Fourth International (FI) is a revolutionary socialist international organisation consisting of followers of Leon Trotsky, or Trotskyists, with the declared goal of helping the working class overthrow capitalism and work toward international communism. The Fourth International was established in France in 1938 as Trotsky and his supporters, having been expelled from the Soviet Union, considered the Third International or Comintern to have become lost to Stalinism and incapable of leading the international working class to political power. Thus, Trotskyists founded their own competing Fourth International.

Within the Workers' Party, Goldman and Farrell worked closely. In 1948, they developed criticisms of its policies, claiming that the party should endorse the Marshall 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. During 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 communication 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 movement.


Farrell was married three times, to two women. He married his first wife Dorothy Butler in 1931. After divorcing her, in 1941 he married stage actress Hortense Alden, with whom he had two sons, Kevin and John. They divorced in 1955, and later that year he remarried Dorothy Farrell. They separated again in 1958 but remained legally married until his death. She died in 2005. [3]


Studs Terkel, the Chicago-based historian, inherited the name "Studs" from Farrell's famous character Studs Lonigan. [4]

The Studs Lonigan trilogy was voted number 29 on the Modern Library's list of the 100 best novels of the 20th century. [5]

On the 100th anniversary of Farrell's birth, Norman Mailer was a panelist at the New York Public Library's "James T. Farrell Centenary Celebration" on February 25, 2004 along with Pete Hamill, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and moderator Donald Yannella. They discussed Farrell's life and legacy.

In 1973, Farrell was awarded the St. Louis Literary Award from the Saint Louis University Library Associates. [6] [7] In 2012, he was inducted into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. [8]


Posthumous editions

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Young Lonigan is a 1932 novel by James T. Farrell. It is the first part of a trilogy about William "Studs" Lonigan, a young Irish-American growing up in Chicago.

The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan is a 1934 novel by James T. Farrell, and the second part of Farrell's trilogy based on the life of William "Studs" Lonigan. This novel covers about 12 years in Studs Lonigan's life, from 1917 through 1928. In this time, we witness the physical and spiritual deterioration of a boy whose life once held a great deal of promise.

Judgment Day is a 1935 novel by James T. Farrell. It is the third and longest installment of Farrell's trilogy based on the short, unhappy life of William "Studs" Lonigan.

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  1. Penniless Press: James T Farrell by Jim Burns retrieved March 11, 2012
  2. As reported in the New York Times on the occasion of Norman Mailer's death in 2007.
  3. Chicago Tribune, 4 April 2005, "Dorothy Farrell, 95, Author's wife helped struggling artists". Retrieved June 17, 2015
  4. Steven G. Kellman (December 23, 1999). "Steven G. Kellman on Studs Terkel". The Texas Observer . Retrieved June 4, 2011.
  5. 100 Best Novels « Modern Library. Modernlibrary.com. Retrieved on July 2, 2015.
  6. Website of St. Louis Literary Award
  7. Saint Louis University Library Associates. "Recipients of the St. Louis Literary Award". Archived from the original on July 31, 2016. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  8. "James T. Farrell". Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. 2012. Retrieved 2017-10-08.

Further reading