The Novels of John Hampson

  • Mercer F. Hampson Simpson

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    This dissertation examines both development and decline in the work of John Hampson, a regional writer whose novels, with one exception, were published during the 1930's. Brief reference is made to the novelist's unpublished Mss. discovered among his papers, though limitations of space relegated their more detailed treatment to an Appendix.

    An account of Hampson's life and work in which the inter-reaction of his psychological aetiology and his life experiences is examined, together with their relationship to his artistic development, precedes the more detailed examination of his novels. His frank depiction of heterosexuality rendered his earliest work unpublishable except where this could be subsumed as a part of a normal adolescent phase prior to maturation. His progression from working out personal problems and the resultant family conflicts with himself to his examination of the problems of, and tensions between individual family groupings, coincides with his developments in novelistic technique which achieve formidable complexity and are often handled with considerable skill. Here Hampson's interest in the solution of the problems of novelistic form emerges most clearly. However, once Hampson has achieved maturity as a novelist by sublimating the personal elements in his work, his creativity wanes. Even then, his later novels subsist on technique until, in his final novel, he returns to personal obsessions in an attempt to ward off an increasing creative sterility. Only in his best work did Hampson succeed in achieving the necessary compromise between his obsessions and his art.

    Nevertheless, Hampson's involvement in problems of form and technique, as perceived in his employment of contrasting narrators, his sympathy for the working-class, his accurate depiction of regional settings, and a sometimes harsh but unadorned, direct style that reflects his personal honesty, are all indications of the artistic integrity that motivated a flawed but interesting novelist.
    Date of Award1975
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Glamorgan Polytechnic

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