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"Koestler is a rare protean figure in modern intellectual life- a successful journalist, novelist, and popular philosopher. His concern for ultimate issues and his idealistic involvement lend weight to his fiction. His wit, clarity, and brilliance of exposition make his... volumes of political, scientific, and philosophical theory highly enjoyable as well as provocative."
Arthur Koestler was a multi-faceted writer whose work included novels, essays, news articles, and screenplays. He began his career as a writer for a weekly magazine in Cario, Egypt, eventually serving as its editor from 1926 to 1929. Throughout the next decade he worked as a foreign correspondent for a variety of publications. Although he was a Communist since 1930, Koestler gained international recognition with his 1940 novel, Darkness at Noon, a fictionalized account of the Moscow Trials of 1938, that was inspired by his disillusionment with the Soviet Union and Communism. Playwright and director Sidney Kingsley adapted the book into a hit Broadway show. The book has also been translated into over 30 languages. Koestler turned over all of his royalties from the book and play to the Fund for Intellectual Freedom, which he had established to help writers all over the world. After 25 years of political writing, he turned to other interests, such as philosophy, psychology, the history of science, and the nature of artistic creation. His most widely known non-political work is The Act of Creation, a study of the creative process.
Book cover, Thieves In The Night, by Arthur Koestler. The Macmillan Company, New York, 1946, 1965. Image by Jonathan Green-Armytage.
Education and Training
Attended University of Vienna, Austria, 1922-1926
Teachers and Influences
Dylan Thomas, Paul Sartre, Alfred Camus, Simone de Beauvoir
Connection to Bucks County
In October of 1950, Arthur Koestler purchased at auction an island in the Delaware River known as Island Farm (formerly Hooker's Island), presently known as Hendrick Island. It was on this Bucks County island that he began the first volume of his autobiography, Arrow In the Blue. While living on the island, he launched an enterprise called Fund for Intellectual Freedom. He sold the island in 1954, after he and his second wife separated.
Colleagues and Affiliations
Patricia Highsmith, writer, was a good friend of Koestler, both here and in England. Other friends were writer Budd Schulberg and his wife Vicky, John von Neumann; Jack and Chris Newsom of Point Pleasant; and Jupp Loewengrad and his wife Kathrin Loewengrad, whose pen name was Martha Albrand.
Dialogue With Death
Scum of the Earth, 1941
Arrow in the Blue, 1952
The Invisible Writing, 1954
The God That Failed, 1950
The Case of the Midwife Toad, 1971
The Roots of Coincidence, 1972
Stranger on the Square (co-authored by Cynthia Koestler), 1984
Novels and Short Stories
Selected list of Koestler's most well-known novels:
The Gladiators, 1939
Darkness At Noon, 1940
Arrival and Departure, 1943
Thieves in the Night, 1946
The Age of Longing, 1951
The Call Girls, 1972
Darkness at Noon, adapted for the Broadway stage by Sidney Kingsley, 1952
Criticism and Essays
Koestler wrote numerous essays and philosophical fragments including:
Suicide of a Nation, 1963
Beyond Reductionism: New Perspectives in the Life Sciences, 1969
Chubb Fellow, Yale University, 1950
Royal Society of Literature Fellow, 1958
Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, 1964-1965
Sonning Prize, University of Copenhagen, 1968
LL.D., Queens University, 1968
Commander of the Order of the British Empire, 1972
Named Companion of Literature, 1974
Fellow, Royal Astronomical Society, 1976
Doctorate of Literature, Leeds University, 1977
Affiliations and Memberships
He established the Fund for Intellectual Freedom (FIF), which provided help ranging from typewriters to grants for finishing a book, means of paying translators, arranging for publishing and radio contacts, etc. Financial help came from Aldous Huxley, Stephen Spender, and Budd Schulberg. Koestler assigned FIF all future royalties from the Broadway production of Darkness at Noon. In 1952, Koestler handed over administration of the fund to the International Pen Club. In 1956, the fund was transferred to the Congress for Cultural Freedom, which was financed by the CIA.