Jack Finney

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Walter Braden (Jack) Finney
Born (1911-10-02)October 2, 1911
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Died November 14, 1995(1995-11-14) (aged 84)
Greenbrae, California, United States
Occupation Novelist, short story writer
Nationality American
Period 1946–1995
Genre Noir fiction, science fiction, thrillers, comedy
Subject 19th century American history

Jack Finney (October 2, 1911 – November 14, 1995) was an American author. His best-known works are science fiction and thrillers, including The Body Snatchers and Time and Again. The former was the basis for the 1956 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers and its remakes.


Finney was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and given the name John Finney. After his father died when he was three years old, he was renamed Walter Braden Finney in honor of his father, but continued to be known as "Jack" throughout his life. He attended Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, graduating in 1934. He married Marguerite Guest and they had two children, Kenneth and Marguerite. After living in New York City and working for an advertising agency there, he moved with his family to California in the early 1950s. He lived in Mill Valley, California, and died of pneumonia and emphysema in Greenbrae, California at 84.

Writing career

"The Widow's Walk", won a contest sponsored by Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in 1946.[1] His first novel, 5 Against the House, was published in 1954. It was made into a movie the following year.

Finney's novel The Body Snatchers (1955) was the basis for the 1956 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers (and its remakes).

Another novel, Assault on a Queen (1959), became a film with Frank Sinatra as the leader of a gang that pulls a daring robbery of the RMS Queen Mary.

Finney's greatest success came with his science fiction novel Time and Again (1970). It involves time travel to the past, a theme he had experimented with previously in short stories. Its protagonist, Simon Morley, is working in advertising in New York City when he is recruited for a secret government project to achieve time travel. Instead of using a physical machine, the participants steep themselves in the history and culture of a particular time and place, then travel there through hypnosis or self-hypnosis. Morley travels to the New York City of 1882. The novel is notable for Finney's vivid and detailed picture of life in the city at that time and for the art and photographs supposedly made by Morley during his experiences, which are reproduced in the pages of the novel. Morley sees many actual historical sites, some now gone (e.g., the post office that, until 1939, stood in what is now the southern tip of City Hall Park) and some still existing (e.g., St. Patrick's Cathedral, then the tallest building in its Fifth Avenue neighborhood).

In 1987, Finney was given the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement at the World Fantasy Convention, held in Nashville, Tennessee.[2]

Finney's story "Such Interesting Neighbors" (Collier's, 6 January 1951) was the basis for the second episode of Science Fiction Theatre, entitled "Time Is Just a Place." It was first broadcast on 16 April 1955. It co-starred Don DeFore and Warren Stevens. Later, the story appeared as an episode of the Steven Spielberg-created anthology series Amazing Stories, starring Adam Ant and Marcia Strassman. Spielberg's version was first broadcast on 20 March 1987.

In 1995, twenty-five years after Time and Again, Finney published a well-received sequel called From Time to Time featuring the further adventures of Morley, this time centering on Manhattan in 1912. Finney died at the age of 84 not long after finishing the book.

The 1998 television movie The Love Letter, starring Campbell Scott and Jennifer Jason Leigh, is based on Finney's short story of the same name, which appeared in The Saturday Evening Post in 1959.

The Third Level, Knox College's science fiction and fantasy publication, is named for Finney's short story and collection. "The Third Level" was published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in October 1952.[3]


Short stories

  • "Someone Who Knows Told Me …", Cosmopolitan (Non-Fiction) (December, 1943)
  • "The Widow's Walk", Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (July, 1947)
  • "Breakfast in Bed", Collier's (May, 1948)
  • "The Little Courtesies", Collier's (June, 1949)
  • "A Dash of Spring", Cosmopolitan (June, 1949)
  • "I Like It This Way", Collier's (June, 1950)
  • "My Cigarette Loves Your Cigarette", Collier's (September, 1950)
  • "Such Interesting Neighbors", Collier's (January, 1951)
  • "One Man Show", Collier's (June, 1951)
  • "I'm Scared", Collier's (September, 1951)
  • "It Wouldn't be Fair", Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (November, 1951)
  • "Obituary" (co-written with C.J. Durban), Collier's (February, 1952)
  • "The Third Level", The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (October, 1952)
  • "Quit Zoomin' Those Hands Through the Air", The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (December, 1952)
  • "Of Missing Persons" (1955)
  • "Man of Confidence", Good Housekeeping (September, 1955)
  • "Second Chance", Good Housekeeping (April, 1956)
  • "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket", Good Housekeeping (June, 1956)
  • "The Love Letter", Saturday Evening Post (August 1, 1959) [Also re-published in January/February 1988 issue of Saturday Evening Post]
  • "The U-19’s Last Kill", Saturday Evening Post (six-part series, beginning August 22, 1959 and ending September 26, 1959)
  • "The Other Wife" (aka The Coin Collector), Saturday Evening Post (January 30, 1960)
  • "An Old Tune" (aka Home Alone), McCall's (October, 1961)
  • "Old Enough for Love", McCall's (May, 1962)
  • "The Sunny Side of the Street", McCall's (October, 1962)
  • "Time Has No Boundaries" (aka The Face in the Photo), Saturday Evening Post (October 13, 1962)
  • Hey, Look at Me! (1962)
  • Lunch Hour Magic (1962)
  • Where the Cluetts Are (1962)



  • The Third Level (1957) (short story collection), in England as The Clock of Time (1958)
  • I Love Galesburg in the Springtime (1963) (short story collection)
  • Forgotten News: The Crime of the Century and Other Lost Stories (1983) (Nonfiction)
  • About Time (1986) (short story collection, a subset of only the time stories from The Third Level and I Love Galesburg in the Springtime)
  • Three by Finney (1987) (an omnibus edition of The Woodrow Wilson Dime, Marion's Wall, and The Night People)


  • Telephone Roulette: A Comedy in One Act (1956)
  • This Winter's Hobby: A Play (1966)

Films based on Finney's novels and stories

A 1980 film, Somewhere in Time, was based on the novel Bid Time Return, by Richard Matheson, but used the same time travel technique described by Finney in Time and Again and About Time. The college professor who describes this time travel technique is also named Finney after the author.[citation needed]

Notes and references

  1. "Jack Finney biography". Retrieved June 11, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "1987 World Fantasy Award Winners and Nominees". Retrieved June 11, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION: ANTHOLOGIES (by content)". sfsite.com. SF Site. Retrieved 2015-07-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links