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John Wyndham

John Wyndham

The author of The Day of the Triffids was John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris who was born on 10 July, 1903 in Knowle in Warwickshire. He spent the early part of his childhood in Edgbaston, Birmingham. When he was eight, his parents separated and the rest of his young life was unsettled, moving through different boarding schools.

When he left school, he did not know what career to pursue, venturing into many areas before eventually settling upon writing. His first science fiction story was “Worlds to Barter”, published in the May 1931 edition of “Wonder Stories” (credited to John Beynon Harris). He toyed with several pseudonyms in subsequent contributions, including John Beynon, John Harris and Lucas Parkes.

During World War II, he started as a goverment official in the censorship department before joining the army in the Royal Corps of Signals. Afterwards, he returned to writing, amending his style until his first big success, “The Day of the Triffids” was published in 1951.

He married an old friend, Grace Wilson, in 1963 and died on 11 March, 1969.

His major works are:

Year Book Also known as
1936 Stowaway to Mars Planet Plane
1951 The Day of the Triffid Revolt of the Triffids
1953 The Kraken Wakes Out of the Deeps
1955 The Chrysalids Re-birth
1956 The Seeds of Time  
1957 The Midwich Cuckoos Village of the Damned (films)
1960 Trouble with Lichen  
1961 Consider her Ways  
1968 Chocky  

The Day of the Triffids

Wyndham came up with the idea for “The Day of the Triffids” when he was walking home late one night and saw some raspberry canes waving in the wind against the sky. In a 1968 interview, he recalled “The trees and hedgerows were blowing across the road and I thought, by gosh, those'd be nasty things if they could sting you.”

Manuscript of the book

It first appeared as “Revolt of the Triffids” in an American journal “Colliers Weekly” in January and February 1951. This was an abridged serialisation of the full novel in which the triffids naturally germinated on Venus.

There is a precursor to “The Day of the Triffids” in his short story “The Puff-Ball Menace” published in “Wonder Stories” in 1933. In it, a hostile country plants a dangerous fungus in Britain which breeds voraciously and kills people.

The character of Michael Beadley was based apparently on John Hadon Bradley, Wyndham's headmaster at one of his boarding schools.

Page from Collier's magazine