English language teacher (1951 – 1953)
John Robert Fowles was born March 31, 1926, at Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, the son of Robert and Gladys Richards Fowles. He was educated at Alleyn Court School (1934-1939) and Bedford School (1939-1944), excelling in both scholarship and sports. When his family was evacuated from the London suburbs during World War II, Fowles lived in and became acquainted with the Devon countryside. He served two years military service in the Royal Marines (1945-1947) after receiving training at the University of Edinburgh (1944-1945), but did not see any combat duty. In 1947, he entered New College, Oxford, to read French and German languages and literature, graduating in 1950.
Upon completion of his education, Fowles taught at the University of Poitiers in France (1950-1951) and at the AnargyriosCollege (1951-1953) on the Greek island of Spetses. It was here that he met his future wife, Elizabeth Whitton, to whom he was married April 2, 1954. Upon his return to London, teaching remained his profession at Ashridge College (1953-1954) and at St. Godric’s College (1954-1963), until one of several writing projects bore fruit. The publication and immense success of his novel THE COLLECTOR (1963) enabled Fowles to concentrate his energies upon a career as a writer.
Fowles’s major works include THE ARISTOS (1964), THE MAGUS (1965), THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN (1969), POEMS (1973), THE EBONY TOWER (1974), DANIEL MARTIN (1977), MANTISSA (1982), and A MAGGOT (1985). From these, three major motion pictures have been produced to date: THE COLLECTOR (1965),THE MAGUS (1968), and THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN (1981). In addition to his novels, short stories, poems, philosophical writings, and screenplays, Fowles is also the translator of several plays from the French for the National Theatre (DON JUAN, LORENZACCIO, THE LOTTERY OF LOVE, and MARTINE) and of other French works, such as CINDERELLA and OURIKA. Nonfiction books to his credit include SHIPWRECK, ISLANDS, LAND, THE TREE, and THE ENIGMA OF STONEHENGE, and reflect such interests as antiquarianism, conservation and ecology, local history, and the appreciation of nature. His articles have appeared in a variety of journals and he has contributed numerous forewords and introductions to works by others.
In 1966, Fowles and his wife Elizabeth left London for Dorset, living first at Underhill Farm, then moving to Lyme Regis in 1968, where he still resides. In 1978, he was appointed joint honorary curator of the Lyme Regis (Philpot) Museum, and served from 1979-1988 as the sole honorary curator.
The bulk of this collection was acquired from Mr. Fowles in 1991, though separate smaller acquisitions were made 1968-1989 for materials relating to THE ARISTOS, DON JUAN, and THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN. Additional items were received, 1982-1993, as gifts from Robert Huffaker and Charlotte Rhodes. More papers from Mr. Fowles are expected in the future.
For further information on the life and writings of John Fowles, see:
Aubrey, James R. JOHN FOWLES: A REFERENCE COMPANION. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991.
Huffaker, Robert. JOHN FOWLES. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1980.
Olshen, Barry N. and Toni A. Olshen. JOHN FOWLES: A REFERENCE GUIDE. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1980.
Pifer, Ellen. “John Fowles.” THE DICTIONARY OF LITERARY BIOGRAPHY. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1983. 14: 309-336