James Hanley was born in Liverpool in 1897 to an Irish Catholic family. He spent the formative years of his youth in the merchant navy and later served with the Canadian Infantry in the First World War.
From 1930 he published 48 books, including novels, volumes of short stories and one excursion into autobiography, Broken Water and one documentary on the situation of coal-miners in the thirties, Grey Children.
His work received considerable critical acclaim. E. M. Forster called him ‘a novelist of distinction and originality’. His novels include Boy, The Furys, The Hollow Sea, The Ocean, The Welsh Sonata and Levine.
His last four books – Another World, Woman in the Sky, A Dream Journey and A Kingdom – were published during the last decade of his life, after a long break from novel-writing when he concentrated on plays for BBC Radio, television and the theatre.