English Science Fiction Author John Wyndham was born 10 July 1903 in the village of Dorridge near Knowle, Warwickshire (now West Midlands), England, the son of George Beynon Harris, a barrister, and Gertrude Parkes, the daughter of a Birmingham ironmaster. His early childhood was spent in Edgbaston in Birmingham, but when he was 8 years old his parents separated and he and his brother, the writer Vivian Beynon Harris, spent the rest of their childhood at a number of English preparatory and public schools, including Blundell’s School in Tiverton, Devon, during World War I. His longest and final stay was at Bedales School near Petersfield in Hampshire (1918–21), which he left at the age of 18, and where he blossomed and was happy.
After leaving school, Wyndham tried several careers, including farming, law, commercial art and advertising, but mostly relied on an allowance from his family. He eventually turned to writing for money in 1925 and, by 1931, was selling short stories and serial fiction to American science fiction magazines, most under the pen names “John Beynon” and “John Beynon Harris”, although he also wrote some detective stories including The Secret People (1935), as John Beynon, Foul Play Suspected (1935), as John Beynon and Planet Plane (1936), as John Beynon (a.k.a The Space Machine and Stowaway to Mars).
During World War II, Wyndham first served as a censor in the Ministry of Information, then joined the British Army, serving as a Corporal cipher operator in the Royal Corps of Signals. He participated in the Normandy landings, although he was not involved in the first days of the operation. After the war, Wyndham returned to writing, inspired by the success of his brother, who had four novels published. He altered his writing style; and, by 1951, using the John Wyndham pen name for the first time, he wrote the novel The Day of the Triffids. His pre-war writing career was not mentioned in the book’s publicity, and people were allowed to assume that it was a first novel from a previously unknown writer.
Novels published by John Wyndham include The Day of the Triffids (1951), also known as Revolt of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes (1953), published in the US as Out of the Deeps, The Chrysalids (1955), The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), filmed twice as Village of the Damned, The Outward Urge (1959), Trouble with Lichen (1960) and Chocky, the Web and Plan for Chaos. Wyndham also published many Short story collections including Jizzle, The Seeds of Time, Tales of Gooseflesh and Laughter, Consider Her Ways and Others, The Infinite Moment, Sleepers of Mars, Worlds to Barter, Invisible Monster, The Man from Earth, the Third Vibrator, Wanderers of Time, Derelict of Space, Child of Power, The Last Lunarians, The Puff-ball Menace (a.k.a. Spheres of Hell), Exiles on Asperus, No Place Like Earth, The Lost Machine, The Venus Adventure” (1932), The Stare, The Moon Devils, The Cathedral Crypt, The Perfect Creature, Judson’s Annihilator and The Trojan Beam
In 1963, he married Grace Isobel Wilson, whom he had known for more than 20 years; the couple remained married until he died. He and Grace lived for several years in separate rooms at the Penn Club, London and later lived near Petersfield, Hampshire, just outside the grounds of Bedales School. He died 11 March 1969, aged 65, at his home in Petersfield, survived by his wife and his brother. Subsequently, some of his unsold work was published; and his earlier work was re-published. His archive was acquired by Liverpool University. On 24 May 2015 an alley in Hampstead that appears in The Day of the Triffids was formally named Triffid Alley as a memorial to him.