Balchin’s books

Books by Balchin


Between 1934 and 1967, Balchin wrote a total of 14 novels, many of them contemporary classics. Note that, although many people consider Lord, I Was Afraid to be a novel, it is really a play; however, I have placed it in this category for the sake of simplicity. Click on each book title for a brief overview. Longer synopses for all 16 of Balchin’s works of fiction can also be accessed by clicking on the dark blue text that you will find under the ‘Synopsis’ section of each overview.

No Sky (Hamish Hamilton; 1934)
Simple Life (Hamish Hamilton; 1935)
Lightbody on Liberty (Collins; 1936)
Darkness Falls from the Air (Collins; 1942)
The Small Back Room (Collins; 1943)
Mine Own Executioner (Collins; 1945)
Lord, I Was Afraid (Collins; 1947)
The Borgia Testament (Collins; 1948)
A Sort of Traitors (Collins; 1949)
A Way Through the Wood (Collins; 1951)
Sundry Creditors (Collins; 1953)
The Fall of the Sparrow (Collins; 1955)
Seen Dimly Before Dawn (Collins; 1962)
In the Absence of Mrs Petersen (Collins; 1966)
Kings of Infinite Space (Collins; 1967)

Short stories

Balchin’s only short story compilation was published towards the end of 1954. He did, however, write a handful of other short stories during his career (see Other Works for details of these).

Last Recollections of My Uncle Charles (Collins; 1954)

Non-fiction books

Balchin’s first non-fiction book, How to Run a Bassoon Factory, was a satire of business methods and he wrote several other books in a similar vein in the mid-1930s. His first three non-fiction books were all published under the pseudonym Mark Spade, a name chosen so as not to antagonize his employers, who may have been angry had they discovered that a man on their staff had sufficient reserves of time and energy after a working day to compose works of literature. Balchin’s final piece of book-length non-fiction was The Anatomy of Villainy in 1950.

How to Run a Bassoon Factory (as Mark Spade) (Hamish Hamilton; 1934)
Business for Pleasure (as Mark Spade) (Hamish Hamilton; 1935)
Fun and Games: How to Win at Almost Anything (as Mark Spade) (Hamish Hamilton; 1936)
Income and Outcome (Hamish Hamilton; 1936)
The Anatomy of Villainy (Collins; 1950)
How to Run a Bassoon Factory and Business for Pleasure (as Mark Spade, with an Introduction by Nigel Balchin) (Hamish Hamilton; 1950)

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