Wyndham's first published sf story, "Worlds to Barter", was published in the May 1931 issue of Wonder Stories, under his "John Beynon Harris" byline
Wyndham/Harris as pictured in the May 1931 Wonder Stories
Wyndham's second story, "The Lost Machine", was cover-featured on the April 1932 issue of Amazing Stories, also under his Harris byline
Wyndham's 1934 novelette "The Moon Devils" was the cover story for the April issue of Wonder Stories, also under the Harris byline
Wyndham's 1951 novelette "Tyrant and Slave-Girl on Planet Venus" was the cover story for the first and only issue of Ten Story Fantasy, under his "John Beynon" byline
John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris (/ˈwɪndəm/; 10 July 1903 – 11 March 1969) was an English science fiction writer best known for his works written using the pen name John Wyndham, although he also used other combinations of his names, such as John Beynon and Lucas Parkes. Some of his works were set in post-apocalyptic landscapes. His best known works include The Day of the Triffids (1951) and The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), the latter filmed twice as Village of the Damned.
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. In 1927, he published the detective novel The Curse of the Burdens as John B. Harris, and by 1931, he was selling short stories and serial fiction to American science fiction magazines. His debut short story, 1931's "Worlds To Barter", appeared under the byline John B. Harris; subsequent stories through about 1935 were credited to John Benyon Harris. By mid-1935, the Harris surname was dropped, and his work was signed as by John Benyon. Three novels by Benyon were published in 1935/36, two of them works of science fiction, the other being a detective story. He also used the pen name Wyndham Parkes for one short story in the UK's Fantasy Magazine in 1939, as 'John Benyon' had already been credited for another story in the same issue.
After the war, Wyndham returned to writing, still using the pen name John Benyon. Inspired by the success of his younger brother, who had four novels published starting in 1948, 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.
The book proved to be an enormous success and established Wyndham as an important exponent of science fiction. During his lifetime, he wrote and published six more novels under the name John Wyndham, and used that name professionally from 1951 forward. Note that his 1959 novel The Outward Urge was credited to John Wyndham and Lucas Parkes, but "Lucas Parkes" is yet another pseudonym for Wyndham himself.
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. A collection of his letters to Grace written during the Second World War are held in the University of Liverpool archive. Wyndham explores the issues around women being forced by their biology to choose between careers and love in Trouble with Lichen.
He died in 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.
Early novels published under other pen names
The Curse of the Burdens(1927), as John B. Harris. Aldine Mystery Novels No. 17 (London: Aldine Publishing Co. Ltd.).
Jizzle (1954) (Jizzle; Technical Slip; A Present From Brunswick; Chinese Puzzle; Esmeralda; How Do I Do?; Una; Affair of the Heart; Confidence Trick; The Wheel; Look Natural, Please!; Perforce to Dream; Reservation Deferred; Heaven Scent; More Spinned Against)
The Seeds of Time (1956) (Chronoclasm; Time to Rest; Meteor; Survival; Pawley's Peepholes; Opposite Number; Pillar to Post; Dumb Martian; Compassion Circuit; Wild Flower)
Wanderers of Time (1973), a collection of five stories originally published in magazines in the 1930s: Wanderers of Time, Derelict of Space, Child of Power, The Last Lunarians and The Puff-ball Menace (a.k.a. Spheres of Hell)
"The Midwich Cuckoos" (2005) [with Pauline Francis]
John Wyndham's reputation rests mainly on the first four of the novels published in his lifetime under that name.[a]The Day of the Triffids remains his best-known work, but some readers consider that The Chrysalids was really his best.
He also wrote several short stories, ranging from hard science fiction to whimsical fantasy. A few have been filmed: Consider Her Ways, Random Quest, Dumb Martian, A Long Spoon, Jizzle (filmed as Maria) and Time to Rest (filmed as No Place Like Earth). There is also a radio version of Survival.
Most of Wyndham's novels are set in the 1950s among middle-class English people. Brian Aldiss, another British science fiction writer, disparagingly labelled some of them "cosy catastrophes", especially The Day of the Triffids, but the critic L.J. Hurst pointed out that in Triffids the main character witnesses several murders, suicides and misadventures, and is frequently in mortal danger himself.
^For example, around 2000 they were all reprinted as Penguin Modern Classics.
Aldiss, Brian W (1973), Billion year spree: the history of science fiction, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN978-0-297-76555-4
Harris, Vivian Beynon. "My Brother, John Wyndham: A Memoir." Transcribed and ed., David Ketterer, *Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction* 28 (Spring 1999): 5–50.
Ketterer David,. "Questions and Answers: The Life and Fiction of John Wyndham." *The New York Review of Science Fiction* 16 (March 2004): 1,6–10*
Ketterer, David. "The Genesis of the Triffids." *The New York Review of Science Fiction* 16 (March 2004): 11–14.
Ketterer, David. "John Wyndham and the Sins of His Father: Damaging Disclosures in Court." *Extrapolation* 46 (Summer 2005): 163–88.
Ketterer, David. "'Vivisection': Schoolboy John Wyndham's First Publication?" *Science Fiction Studies* 78 (July 1999): 303–311; expanded and corrected in *Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction* 29 (Summer 2000): 70–84.
Ketterer, David. "'A Part of the . . . Family': John Wyndham's *The Midwich Cuckoos* as Estranged Autobiography." In *Learning From Other Worlds: Estrangement, Cognition and the Politics of Science Fiction and Utopia*, ed Patrick Parrinder (Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press, 2001), 146–77.
Ketterer, David. "When and Where Was John Wyndham Born?" *Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction" 42 (Summer 2012/13): 22–39.
Ketterer, David. "John Wyndham: The Facts of Life Sextet." In *A Companion to Science Fiction*, ed. David Seed (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003), 375–88.
Ketterer, David. "John Wyndham's World War III and His Abandoned *Fury of Creation* Trilogy." In *Future Wars: The Anticipations and the Fears, ed. David Seed (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2012), 103–29.
Ketterer, David. "John B. Harris's Mars Rover on Earth." *Science Fiction Studies 41 (July 2014); 474-75.