J. G. Farrell

James Gordon Farrell - JG Farrell - ( born January 25, 1935 in Liverpool, † August 11 1979 in Bantry Bay, Ireland ) was an English writing, Irish- British writer who was best known for his historical novels of the Empire Trilogy ( trilogy of the Empire ): troubles ( unrest ), the Siege of Krishnapur, ( siege of Krishnapur ) and the Singapore grip ( encirclement of Singapore).


His father, Bill, was an Englishman who worked as an accountant in Liverpool and as a manager often traveled to the Far East and India. His mother was Irish Jo; the family moved in 1945 to Ireland. This geographical contexts have influenced him later in his career. Farrell has even noticed that he was held in Ireland for an Englishman, an Irishman in England for.

By the mid- 1950s, he traveled to Canada, where he held various occupations for seven months. After returning from Canada, he began to study law at Oxford on the Brasenose College. At the university he was a keen sportsman, but contracted polio. Among the consequences of this illness he suffered all his life. This experience inspired him to the book The Lung; the motif of the disease ( in various forms ) is found in all his novels. He graduated from in 1960. He also studied French and Spanish; two years, he worked in France as a language teacher.

His first work A Man From Elsewhere (The Man from elsewhere ) was released in 1963. This book gave him a two -year fellowship in New York. However, he appreciated this work later a minor. In 1965 followed the autobiographical basically novel, The Lung ( Pulmonary ) and 1967 an unsuccessful experimentales drive A Girl in the Head ( girl in the head).

His main work is the so-called Empire Trilogy ( Empire trilogy), in which he deals with the disintegration of the British Empire; this topic has fascinated Farrell. It consists of Troubles ( 1970), about unrest in Ireland in 1919-1921, The Siege of Krishnapur (1973 above the Sepoy Mutiny in India in the years 1857/1858 ) - for this book, he was awarded the Booker Prize - and The Singapore grip ( encirclement of Singapore) 1978 concerning the fall of Singapore in World War II.

With the handover of the Booker Prize, he accused the main sponsor of the prize, the company Booker - McConnell, the exploitation of their black workers in the Caribbean.

In March 1979, he moved to the Sheep's Head Peninsula in Ireland, where he drowned while fishing in Bantry Bay on the 11th or 12th of August, a wave knocked him into the open sea, Farrell could not swim well because of his former polio disease. He died only 44 years old, just at the time when he had found his style and began to become famous. He is buried in the graveyard of St. James 's Church in Durrus.

As editor of the publishing house Hutchinson, he discovered the talent of Beryl Bainbridge.

Literary characteristics

Characteristic of his literary work is a detailed study of historical sources and their comprehensive utilization ( when writing The Siege of Krishnapur, he has, for example, many Indian dishes eaten ).

He refused contemporary literary experiments that he perceived as an end in itself. One can say that his best novels are actually made ​​up of a series of absurd and picturesque locations and situations. Many passages are masterfully humorous. His heroes he looked with sympathetic irony.



  • A Man From Elsewhere. A novel. New Authors Press, London 1963.
  • The Lung. Hutchinson, London 1965.
  • A Girl in the Head. Fontana Books, London 1982, ISBN 0-00-616194-4 ( Nachdr d ed London 1967).
  • Empire Trilogy. Flamingo Books, London
  • The Hill Station. An unfinished novel and an Indian diary. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 1981, ISBN 0-297-77922-2 ( posthumously published by John Spurling ).
  • Lavinia Greacen (ed.): JG Farrell in his own words. Selected letters and diaries. Cork University Press, Cork 2009, ISBN 978-1-85918-428-8.


Troubles was filmed in 1988 by Christopher Morahan.