James Hanley (September 3, 1901 - November 11, 1985) was a British novelist.
Born in Dublin to a working class family, Hanley left school early and took to sea at the age of 13. This was a formative influence and the sea influenced his writing as much as it influenced Joseph Conrad. When he returned to Britain he moved to London in 1924 and began working in a number of jobs before settling as a journalist, writing bleak, spare novels based on his experiences in the meantime.
His second novel, Boy, was praised by William Faulkner amongst others, but was suppressed for 'obscenity'. This led to a famous court case which Hanley lost. The novel was not republished until 1982 (in a Horizon Press edition). The first unexpurgated edition appeared in 1990, published by Andre Deutsch with an introduction by Anthony Burgess.
Partly as a result of the libel case, Hanley moved to Wales, where he began The Furys, a sequence of novels about working-class life in the twentieth century. This was highly praised by John Cowper Powys, with whom Hanley had become friends (Hanley later wrote a monograph on Powys' work).
During the war, Hanley moved back to London to experience the worst of the blitz: this led to his novel No Directions (which was published with an introduction by Henry Miller). He moved back to Wales and finished The Furys in 1956. In the 1960s he concentrated on writing critically acclaimed plays for TV and radio. However he returned to the novel form in the 1970s, writing works including A Woman in the Sky and The Kingdom, which some of his admirers see as being amongst his best. Due to his bleak subject matter and occasional use of experimental techniques, Hanley never had much commercial success, but he has always had critical acclaim.