Jack Finney
BornJohn Finney
(1911-10-02)October 2, 1911
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
DiedNovember 14, 1995(1995-11-14) (aged 84)
Greenbrae, California, United States
OccupationNovelist, short story writer
Alma materKnox College
GenreNoir fiction, science fiction, thrillers, comedy
Subject19th century American history
Notable worksThe Body Snatchers, Time and Again

Walter Braden "Jack" Finney (born John Finney; October 2, 1911 – November 14, 1995) was an American writer. 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 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers and its remakes.

Personal life

Finney was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and given the name John Finney. After his father died when Finney was three years old, he was renamed Walter Braden Finney in honor of his father, but continued to be known as "Jack". 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 the age of 84.

Writing career

Finney's first article, "Someone Who Knows Told Me …", published in the December 1943 issue of Cosmopolitan, reflects the message of the Office of War Information's (OWI) "Loose Lips Sink Ships" campaign of World War II. As an advertising copywriter, Finney was doing his part, driving home the point that careless remarks by otherwise patriotic citizens can aid enemy agents, resulting in the death of US servicemen.

His story "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 multiple remakes.

Another novel, Assault on a Queen (1959), became the film Assault on a Queen 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. 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; it was then published in 1957, in the collection The Third Level by Rhinehart and Company; 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 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 "The Third Level", published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in October 1952.[3]


Short stories


Several Finney novels were adapted as feature films (†); see below.



Film adaptations


  1. ^ "Jack Finney biography". Retrieved June 11, 2007.
  2. ^ "1987 World Fantasy Award Winners and Nominees". Archived from the original on May 19, 2007. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
  3. ^ "FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION: ANTHOLOGIES (by content)". sfsite.com. SF Site. Retrieved July 21, 2015.