He began his writing career as a journalist, but from 1934 produced a series of best-selling novels, the most successful of which was Fame is the Spur (1940), which has been both a major film and a BBC television series.
Howard Spring was born in Cardiff, the son of a poor jobbing gardener. Spring was forced to leave school at the age of twelve when his father died to start work as an errand boy. He later became an office boy at a firm of chartered accountants in Cardiff Docks and then a messenger at the offices of the South Wales Daily News. Spring was keen to train as a reporter, and he spent his leisure time learning shorthand and taking evening classes at the local university, where he studied English, French, Latin, mathematics and history. He graduated to be a reporter on both the morning and evening editions of the South Wales Daily News.
In 1911 he joined the Yorkshire Observer in Bradford before moving in 1915 to the Manchester Guardian, but was there only a few months until he was called up for the Army Service Corps as a shorthand typist. After the war, he returned to the Guardian, where he worked as a reporter. C. P. Scott, the editor, apparently highly regarded Spring's reporting skills; he wrote of Spring that: "Nobody does a better 'descriptive' or a better condensation of a difficult address". In 1931, after a meeting with Lord Beaverbrook, he joined the Evening Standard in London, as a book reviewer, after being made an "irresistible" offer. This proved a very successful appointment. At the same time, Spring was developing his ambitions as a writer; his first book, Darkie and Co., came out in 1932, followed by his first novel, Shabby Tiger, which was set in Manchester, in 1934. A sequel, Rachel Rosing, followed. His first major success came with My Son, My Son! (originally titled O Absalom), which was very successful in America and was filmed. It was adapted for television by the BBC in 1977.
In 1939 Spring moved to Mylor in Cornwall (his wife Marion's father had a house at St Mawes) to become a full-time writer. In 1940, his best-known work, Fame is the Spur, the story of a Labour leader's rise to power, was published. During the war years Spring wrote two other novels, Hard Facts (1944) and Dunkerley's (1946).
In 1947 Spring and his wife moved to Falmouth - The White Cottage in Fenwick Road - and in the post-war period, he published, There is No Armour (1948), The Houses in Between (1951), A Sunset Touch (1953), These Lovers Fled Away (1955), Time and the Hour (1957), All Day Long (1959) and I Met a Lady (1961). Spring also produced three volumes of autobiography: Heaven Lies About Us, A Fragment of Infancy (1939); In the Meantime (1942); and And Another Thing (1946), later published in one volume as The Autobiography of Howard Spring (1972). His last book was Winds of the Day (1964).
During this period Spring served eight years as President of the prestigious Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society as well as being a Director of the Falmouth School of Art and President of the Cornish Drama League. The latter was well known for producing plays at the open-air Minack Theatre on the cliffs near the Lizard.
Spring was a popular and successful writer, who combined a wide understanding of human character with technical skill as a novelist. His method of composition was painstaking and professional; each morning he would shut himself in his room and write one thousand words, steadily building up to novels of around one hundred and fifty thousand words. He rarely made major alterations to his writings. Howard Spring died of a stroke.
In 1967, his wife Marion Howard Spring wrote an affectionate story of their life together called 'Howard' which was published by Collins. A. L. Rowse wrote the foreword.
MacKay, Marina, and Lyndsey Stonebridge, eds.: British Fiction After Modernism: The Novel at Mid-Century.(Book review)
Dec 22, 2008; MACKAY, MARINA, and LYNDSEY STONEBRIDGE, eds. British Fiction After Modernism: The Novel at Mid-Century. New York: Palgrave,...