Edward Upward

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Edward Upward
Edward Upward.jpg
Born (1903-09-09)9 September 1903
Romford, England
Died 13 February 2009(2009-02-13) (aged 105)
Pontefract, West Yorkshire, England
Occupation Writer

Edward Falaise Upward (9 September 1903 – 13 February 2009) was a British novelist and short story writer who, prior to his death, was believed to be the UK's oldest living author.


Upward was born on 9 September, 1903 in Romford, Essex, the first child of Harold Arthur Upward (1874-1958) and Louisa "Isa" Upward (née Jones; 1869-1951). His siblings were John Mervyn Upward (1905-1999), Laurence Vaughan Upward (1909-1970), who suffered from schizophrenia, and Yolande Isa Upward (1911-2004). Upward was educated at Repton School, where he became a friend of Christopher Isherwood. As an undergraduate at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, he won the Chancellor's Medal for English Verse in 1924. He was part of a group of writers including Isherwood (with whom he created the surreal world of the Mortmere stories), W. H. Auden and Stephen Spender.

After graduation Upward worked in various teaching jobs, and in 1932 took up a post at Alleyn's School, Dulwich, where he was to remain for nearly thirty years. He joined the Communist Party that year and remained committed to internationalism and socialism, although he and his wife Hilda left the Communist Party in 1948, believing its policies in Britain were no longer revolutionary.

Upward's first novel, Journey to the Border, was published by the Hogarth Press in 1938. It describes in poetic prose the rebellion of a private tutor against his employer and the menacing world of the 1930s, moving from a nightmarish state to one where he recognizes that he must join the workers' movement.

A semi-autobiographical trilogy, The Spiral Ascent, was published in the 1960s and 1970s after he had retired from teaching and moved to Sandown, Isle of Wight. It deals with a poet's life and his struggle to combine artistic creativity with political commitment, including in its historical sweep the fight against the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s, opposition to the leadership of the Communist Party in the 1940s and later involvement in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

In the last decades of the twentieth century Upward returned to writing short stories, which were published, along with earlier works, by Enitharmon Press. In 2003, a complete collection of his short stories, A Renegade in Springtime, was published to celebrate his centenary. In 2005, Upward was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and awarded their Benson Medal. [1]

He died aged 105 on 13 February 2009 in Pontefract, England.[2]



  • Journey to the Border (1938, revised 1994)
  • In the Thirties — vol. 1 of The Spiral Ascent (1962)
  • The Rotten Elements — vol. 2 of The Spiral Ascent (1969)
  • No Home but the Struggle — vol. 3 of The Spiral Ascent (1977)

Short story collections[edit]

  • The Railway Accident and Other Stories (1969)
  • The Night Walk and Other Stories (1987)
  • The Mortmere Stories (1994)
  • An Unmentionable Man (1994)
  • The Scenic Railway (1997)
  • The Coming Day and Other Stories (2000)
  • A Renegade in Springtime (2003)

A full bibliography can be found in Edward Upward: A Bibliography 1920–2000, Alan Walker, Enitharmon Press (2000).


  • Mario Faraone, L’isola e il treno: L’opera di Edward Upward tra impegno politico e creatività artistica, Roma, La Sapienza Università Editrice, 2013

This book length study is in Italian language, with extensive English language quotations, a previously unpublished interview with the author, and an updated and integrated bibliography (2012).


  1. ^ Parker, Peter (17 February 2009). "Edward Upward: Writer of politically charged novels and short stories who was a contemporary of W.H. Auden". London: The Independent. Retrieved 11 August 2010. 
  2. ^ "Edward Upward writer who illuminated the social turmoil of the 1930s". The Times (London). 16 February 2009. 

External links[edit]