9

John Wyndham — the author of Day of the Triffids amongst others — died in 1969.

Ten years after his death his estate allowed the novella Web to be published for the first time along with a couple of other books not released during his lifetime.

Why wasn't the book published during his lifetime? Or if this was the last title he wrote, why the 10-year delay?

The book doesn't seem to be incomplete and —although a little short— after reading I didn't see a reason why it wouldn't have been released. Bearing in mind the great success that several other of his novels had I'm sure a publisher would have known that any release from him would have sparked interest and profit.

To a reader in 2014, the story is a little clichéd but I don't know if that would have been the case when written and I don’t know when he actually wrote the story. Besides, a few clichés doesn't get in the way of a riveting read.

10

Following Wyndham's death in 1969, his estate was split into two sections, one concerned with his physical assets and one concerned with his "literary estate". The latter passed into the control of John Wyndham's younger brother Vivian Harris.

There is a vast archive of papers relating to the management of this estate held at the University of Liverpool (some 1000+ letters). Based on what I've been able to glean from the archive headers, the initial concern of his executors was to ensure that his estate were correctly managing the publishing rights for his books in America and that the various rights for film adaptations of his existing books were going ahead as planned. This seems to have taken up a huge amount of their attention for much of the early 1970s.

During the mid-1970's there were some 100+ letters sent between Vivian Harris and Wyndham's publisher regarding the posthumous publishing of his final semi-completed manuscript for Web. Although you'd have to read these letters in detail to learn the finer points of the discussion, the header is quite telling. As an incomplete manuscript of just 140 pages (of which 40+ pages are a description of the island that doesn't have any plot whatsoever) they don't seem to have been convinced that it was in a fit state to be published:

This archive contains letters and other correspondence regarding the publishing rights of Web and, initially. whether or not it should be published.

  • And subsequently we have had another novel released you might like to seek out, Plan For Chaos, written post war about the same time as the Triffids and unfinished by JW in his lifetime. It had mixed reviews not least since Wyndham himself reported getting a little lost in it and also because it was eventually made ready for publishing by 2 scholars posthumously i.e. not by JW or with his approval. Not entirely his novel then. It rambles a bit and the plot becomes a tad tedious but I enjoyed it as a fan and loved the theme - post war Nazis in South America with a Wunderwaffe inspired UFO! – Applefanboy Nov 4 '16 at 16:59

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