Forrest Reid

Author of 16 novels and two autobiographies

Forrest Reid was born at 20 Mount Charles, Belfast, in 1876. He was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institute, and apprenticed to Musgrave’s tea company in 1893.

The author of some 16 novels, including The Garden God (1905), At the Door of the Gate (1915), and Peter Waring (1937), Reid also published translations of Greek poetry and a collection of short fiction.

In the first of two volumes of autobiography, 1926’s Apostate, he describes his native city as, '…a provincial town—a rather hard, unromantic town too—devoted exclusively to money-making; yet a town, for all that, somehow likeable, and surrounded by as beautiful a country as one could desire.' This was followed by Private Road in 1940.

Reid’s fiction is marked by an intense, even homoerotic fascination with boyhood. The critic John Cronin remarks, 'Boyhood, not Belfast, is his special province … a fantasy world of boyish innocence which he explored in novel after novel.' Yet Reid’s novels do often draw on Belfast, its social structure and its surroundings, fictionalising, however reticently, his upbringing and self-awakening.

Reid lived in Belfast at various times throughout his life, including addresses on the Ravenhill Road, Fitzwilliam Street, the Dublin Road, and in the east Belfast suburb of Knock. He died at Warrenpoint in early 1946, and was buried in Dundonald cemetery to the east of the city.

Further Reading
Apostate (1926) by Forrest Reid; Ulster’s Alarming Novels, by John Cronin in Eire-Ireland (Winter 1969). Some of his papers are also held in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.