Alan Sillitoe (1928-)
English novelist, children's book writer, playwright and social critic, compared to D.H.Lawrence, who also came from Nottingham. Sillitoe introduced in the post-World War II British fiction realistically portrayed working-class heroes, and was labelled as one of the Angry Young men. His range as a writer has since widened. Sillitoe has written more than fifty books over the last forty years, including novels, plays, and collections of short stories, poems, and travel pieces, as well as more than four hundred essays. "Stars, seen through midnight windows
Of earth-grained eyes
Are fullstops ending invisible sentences,
Aphorisms, quips, mottoes of the gods
Indicate what might have been made clear
Had words stayed plain before them. (from 'Stars' in A Falling Out of Love, 1964)
Alan Sillitoe was born in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, as the son of an illiterate tannery laborer. His father became one of the long-term unemployed during the 1930s Depression. Sillitoe's childhood was shadowed by the financial problems of the family, but he also found early the joys of literature and started to plan his career as a writer. At the age of 14 Sillitoe left school and worked in a number of jobs in Nottingham factories, among others in a bicycle factory from 1942 to 1946. He served in the Royal Air Force, where he was a wireless operator. He was sent to Malaya, and on his return he was discovered to have tuberculosis. Sillitoe spent a sixteen months in a RAF hospital, and during this period he started to write and read intensively. Pensioned off at 21 on 45 shillings at week, he lived in France and Spain for seven years in an attempt to recover.
In 1951 he met an American poet, Ruth Fainlight, who was married, but they decided to live abroad together. From 1952 to 1958 they lived in France, Italy and Spain - largely on Sillitoe's air force pension. Encouraged by Robert Graves, he began to write his first novel THE SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING (1958), exceptionally frank and vigorous story about working-class life in Nottingham. It depicts the weekend of a young laborer, Arthur Seaton, who reluctantly begins to take responsibility of his life. At first glance, he do not seem to be an attractive character, but gradually one almost gets to like him for his vitality and generosity.
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Alan Sillitoe (1928-)
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