Sunday, 15 July 2018

What will happen to our writers?


Writers with the Spirit of Rebellion About to Disappear?
In two years’ time Nottingham Castle will have been returned to the Victorian splendour of its early days.  The thirty-million-pound transformation will include a new display: Nottingham – Creative City, and at the heart of this project will be a Rebellion gallery. You might be expecting our rebel writers to feature in this new endeavour but they appear to have been overlooked. Byron will get a passing mention but that’s it! And that’s not all; sources have revealed that plans are afoot to remove the local literati currently taking pride of place in the colonnade, perhaps splitting the group up with the majority going to Newstead.

For years, visitors walking towards the entrance of the castle have been welcomed by eight of our writers and poets, in the form of bronze memorials. All but one of these were paid for by a former schoolmaster whose last will and testament left funds for the ‘cultural advancement of the city’.

Surely our writers should be included in the new Rebellion exhibition and, rather than removing the busts from the portico, we could make more of them, providing information to visitors so that they can learn about the history behind the figures.

A Freedom of Information request has gone in to the council to find out what they are intending to do with the writers. Meanwhile, let’s meet them. From left to right, they are:



Philip James Bailey (1816-1902)
Nottingham’s Philip James Bailey is best known for his epic poem Festus. Bailey became obsessed by this poem, revising and expanding it until it boasted 40,000 lines. Festus was supposed to be a favourite of Queen Victoria. In 1856, Bailey was awarded a Civil List pension of a hundred pounds a year, which he drew up until his death, 46 years later.

We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts not breaths;

In feelings, not in figures on a dial.

We should count time by heart throbs: he most lives

Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.

Philip James Bailey

Albert Toft created the bust. As with the other sculptors - except Thompson (the Lawrence bust came much later) - Toft received £300.84 for his creation (about £35,000 in today's money).



Thomas Miller (1808-1874)
Given the lack of portraiture of the basket-maker's apprentice, Ernest Gillick decided to sculpture ‘an allegorical subject suggestive of the poet’s sympathies with nature.’ The resulting memorial panel shows two female allegories appearing on both sides of a simple inscription. When Thomas was a toddler his father - an unsuccessful wharf-keeper and ship-owner - left the family unit. Thomas left school at nine and became a voracious reader whilst finding low paid work (he once threw ‘an iron instrument’ at his vicious boss). On moving to Nottingham in 1831 he set up his own basket-making business and a year later published Songs of the Sea Nymphs. Thomas Miller wrote poems, children's books, penny dreadfuls and several novels, including Fair Rosamund. Often monetarily challenged, in 1851 he unsuccessfully appealed to Charles Dickens for financial assistance.



William Howitt (1792-1879) & Mary Howitt (1799-1888)
William and Mary Howitt are brought to life by George Frampton who depicts the writers reading. The married couple were prolific, controversial and radical. Their interest in spiritualism and nature was matched by a determination to provide wholesome and instructive literature for all. They produced the radical People’s Journal together and collaborated throughout their long literary career, the first of their joint productions being The Forest Minstrels and other Poems (1821). Mary considered herself ‘bound to no class’ and her writing was popular with both adults and children. In addition to her own prose and verse she translated the fairytales of Hans Christian Anderson and the novels of the feminist reformer Fredrika Bremer.



Lord Byron (1788-1824)
Alfred Drury’s bust of the scandalous Lord Byron, one of England’s finest poets, faces the castle’s entrance. The notorious nobleman, poet, peer, and politician was a leading figure of the Romantic Movement. Byron’s maiden speech in the House of Lords came in response to plans to make the breaking of weaving machines a capital crime. He later became a hero in Greece after supporting their movement for independence from the Ottoman Empire.



Henry Kirke White (1785-1806)
Oliver Sheppard's bust of Henry Kirke White sits above a pedestal on which a bowed woman is depicted holding a spray of laurel. Born near the Old Market Square, the son of a local butcher was a prodigious knowledge-seeker and by the age of 13 a prolific writer of poetry.  Refusing to follow the career path expected of him, and inspired by Wilford and Clifton, Henry wrote a collection which greatly impressed the Poet laureate Robert Southey.  With wealthy benefactors admiring his talent, our young poet went to study at Cambridge but tuberculosis cut short his life at the age of 21.



D H Lawrence (1885-1930)
The portrait bust of our greatest and most controversial writer D H Lawrence, sculpted by Diana Thomson, was the last to appear in the colonnade. Thompson also created the life-sized bronze statue of Lawrence placed at the University of Nottingham’s University Park campus in 1994. Thirty years after his death Lawrence helped secure greater freedom of expression following the acquittal of Penguin Books in the Lady Chatterley Trail. Lady Chatterley’s Lover was just one of Lawrence’s works to have been banned.



Robert Millhouse (1788-1839)
This sculptured panel by Ernest Gillick depicts Robert Millhouse with his quill pen.  Nottingham’s weaver-poet, Millhouse was a factory boy who lived in poverty all his life. With an education gained by reading he produced poems such as The Destinies of Man, Sherwood Forest and Blossoms. In 1828 he took part in a strike by the frame-work-knitters.  According to Sir Richard Phillips, Millhouse suffered ‘for his fidelity to his brethren, every kind of privation. He justified this strike, and displayed, with great energy and eloquence, the wretched situation of himself and others’. 

Millhouse was named ‘The Artisan Poet’ and ‘The Burns of Sherwood Forest’.

Hail, Fair Nottingham, albeit thy name

Is not poetical, yet from thee rise

Names mounting up to virtue and to fame.

Robert Millhouse.

Our convention-breaking writers represent Nottingham’s spirit of rebellion and deserve a place at the castle. Of course, the names featured above are only eight that warrant inclusion, there are many, many more rebel writers that should not be overlooked. How can we have a rebellion gallery that does not feature Sillitoe’s Arthur Seaton?

I appreciate that Nottingham has a strong history of rebellion, such as the 1831 Reform Riots in which the Castle was burned down, but our reputation is also built on our writing and stories. It is Lucy Hutchinson’s diary (currently in the castle) that informs much of our knowledge about the castle during the time of King Charles and Nottingham’s role in the English civil war. And where would our most famous hooded rebel be without the tales that made his legend?

20th Century Notts, 1940-1949


Notts through a literary lens. Next in the series is the 1940s:


1940


To Church on Sunday by Geoffrey Palmer (1940)

Edwinstowe born Geoffrey Palmer (1912–2005) was a member of Edwinstowe’s well-known Rabbitt family. Educated in Notts he became a teacher here until becoming a Conscientious Objector in the war. Forming his own small theatre group, he soon met his partner, the actor Noel Lloyd. Palmer’s only adult novel, To Church on Sunday, was published by Chapman and Hall in 1940. He went on to have a prolific writing career with Lloyd. Their books consisted of adventure and ghost stories as well as many works of non-fiction. In the early 60s they wrote three children’s books set in the Sherwood Forest area (Edwinstowe becomes Edwinston). Palmer later returned to teaching before retiring to become a bookseller.

Immediately after Nottingham entered World War II cinemas across the country were forced to close their doors and become dark. That suspension was lifted after the importance of keeping the cinemas open was realised. At this time two more screens were being built in Nottingham, taking our number of separate cinemas up to 52, a record high (to this day). It was in 1940 that Sunday openings were permitted for the first time despite concerns that Sabbath screenings would harm the moral fibre of the population and reduce the number of churchgoers.


1941


The Long Walk by Słavomir Rawicz (1956)

Slavomir Rawicz escaped from a Russian gulag camp in 1941. He was one of seven escapees that made their way from Siberia to British India, by way of China, the Gobi Desert, Tibet and the Himalayas. This incredible journey was told in the 2010 film The Way Back and, earlier, in Rawicz’s ghost-written book The Long Walk. The memoir is an epic tale of physical and mental resilience; a 4,000-mile walk, living off the land in a harsh environment. By the time he was rescued Rawicz weighed just 5 stone. After the war he settled in Nottingham, one of thousands of Polish people to make a life here. He worked as a school handicraft and woodwork instructor, and a cabinet maker, later to be employed by the Nottingham building and design centre, before becoming a technician at Trent Poly (Nottingham Trent University). His wife Marjorie, a librarian who had helped with the book, assisted ‘Slav’ in answering the many letters he continued to receive from admirers. The Long Walk, never out of print, has sold half a million copies.  
It was about nine o’clock one bleak November day that they key rattled in the heavy lock of my cell in the Lubyanka Prison and the two broad-shouldered guards marched purposefully in. (from The Long Walk


The Nottingham Poetry Society was founded originally as the Nottingham Branch of the Poetry Society of London. It was in 1941 that Margery Smith wrote to the society in London requesting the names of members living in the Nottingham area. She then met with three other women to form the Nottingham branch. The Society met on Friar Lane once a month. Annual Subscription was one guinea, a fee that included issues of Poetry Review. The Nottingham Poetry Society continues to thrive, holding a variety of events throughout the year, including slam competitions, workshops, readings and lectures. In 2011, the society published an anthology marking their 70th anniversary.




1942


One Small Candle by Cecil Roberts (1942)

During the war Cecil Roberts worked for Lord Halifax, the British Ambassador in Washington, and he gave speeches on behalf of the British Government, whilst still managing to have several books published. His 1942 novel, One Small Candle, is about a gifted and lucky young playwright with a strong desire to travel. The protagonist leaves an idyllic Henley-on Thames to live, love and see the world after a generous offer arrives from Hollywood. It was described by The New York Times as ‘a book that keeps you entertained and never throws you out of balance’.

At the age of twenty-seven Roberts had been England’s youngest daily newspaper editor. This was at the Nottingham Journal on Parliament Street. 


John Gielgud appeared as Macbeth at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal as part of a 1942 tour of the play. Gielgud had volunteered for active service at the start of the war but was told that, at thirty-five, he was not required at that time. The government then decided that professional actors would be better used performing for the troops and general public than on active duty. Critics said that Gielgud was not up to playing the Scottish general whilst the actor himself conceded that he could not achieve the “ruthless energetic quality” required of the role.

During this tour of Macbeth the costume and set designer committed suicide, and a further three actors died - and they say the play’s cursed.



1943


They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple (1943)

This the story of three sisters, the different marital choices they make and how those choices impact on them; all set in an era when women stuck in a bad marriage had little or no option of reprieve. Whipple’s writing has aged well; her characters well-drawn and recognisable. They Were Sisters is an authentic account of domestic middle-class life with a menacing undertone that holds attention.

Moral failure or spiritual failure or whatever you call it, makes such a vicious circle... It seems as if when we love people and they fall short, we retaliate by falling shorter ourselves. (from They Were Sisters)



Alma Reville co-wrote the 1943 psychological thriller Shadow of a Doubt, a screenplay described by the New York Times as ‘a graphic and affectionate outline of a small-town American family’. Reville was born in Nottingham in 1899, a few hours after her future husband and collaborator Alfred Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone. It was in 1925, on a stormy boat journey back from Munich, that lovesick Hitchcock proposed to seasick Reville. She later said, ‘It was the first time I had ever seen him in a state of disorder, and the last time too. His hair had been blown about by the wind and his clothes had been soaked with ocean spray.’



1944


SAS Operation Galia by Rob Hann (2009)

In SAS Operation Galia Nottingham author Rob Hann describes his father’s experiences as a paratrooper dropped behind the lines in Italy, two days after the Christmas of 1944 during the harshest of winters. Drawing on post-op reports and memoirs, this Impress Prize winning book is a fictionalised account of the operation, one of the hardest fought and most successful operations of the Second World War. Well researched and richly illustrated, Hann's personal narrative brings to life the co-ordinated attempts of the SAS and local partisans to engage and evade the enemy.



A sixteen-year-old Edmund Ward left home in 1944. Ward’s mother had died when he was six leading to an unhappy domestic life which he was glad to escape. A talented and prize-winning schoolboy, Ward was denied the chance of a job at the Nottingham Post because they only paid 15 shillings a week. Instead he was obliged to take a book-keepers role at Boots – his father’s employers – for double the wage. He hated the work and took time off to read every book in his local library, a feat achieved by his twentieth birthday. Nottingham born Ward later moved to Sweden. He wrote seven novels including Summer in Retreat, The Gravy Train and The Private Tightrope, and his screenplays created some of the most popular television dramas of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

 

1945


The Escape by Clare Harvey (2018)

In a winter morning of 1945 a translator for a Nazi-run labour camp for French workers passes a group of exhausted prisoners of war marching westward. The following day she receives an urgent message to contact the local priest who is harbouring a group of escapees. Can she help? Published later this year (2018), The Escape is another mix of secrets, drama and relationships, as Clare Harvey continues to meld thrilling historical fiction with real-life characters and events. The author lives in Nottingham and completed a MA course in creative writing at the University of Nottingham.



The year sees a film version of Mapperley Park resident Dorothy Whipple’s novel They Were Sisters. With its all-star British cast, the film was voted one of the four best films of the year. The sisters are played by Phyllis Calvert (as Lucy), Dulcie Gray (as Charlotte) and Anne Crawford (as Vera). Of the different men pursuing them it is James Mason who lands the role of Geoffrey, the ambitious and cruel businessman wanting a stay-at-home trophy wife. The film is noted for its harrowing depiction of marital abuse.


1946


The Day is Ours by Hilda Lewis

Former teacher Hilda Lewis began writing after she arrived in Nottingham in the 1920s. Her 1946 novel The Day is Ours concerns the life of a young deaf girl and the affects her condition has on her family as they struggle to give her a better life. The book was inspired by the work of her husband Professor M. Michael Lewis who was a specialist in the education of the deaf at the University of Nottingham. The Day is Ours was adapted as the film Mandy, described as ‘the greatest emotional drama yet brought to the screen’.



The Nottingham Co-op bought a chapel on George Street where it founded the Co-operative Arts Theatre in 1946. The need for the theatre had come after the Choral, Operatic and Drama groups had outgrown their previous venue at Co-op House. When the Co-operative Wholesale Society intended to close the theatre - in 1999 - a theatre group started a campaign to buy the building. With help from Nottingham City Council and the Broadway Media Centre the asking price was met. The small theatre in the Lace Market remains active. Now called Nottingham Arts Theatre, this pink building is home to an educational charity which still provides opportunities for all within performing arts.



1947


Eight for Eternity by Cecil Roberts

Published in 1947, Eight for Eternity is one of Cecil Roberts’ more accessible reads. A Freeman of Nottingham, Roberts spent his later years living in Italy, and Monte Cassino is the setting for this story of war. The world wars have ripped apart cities and families, and peace cannot repair the destruction. Roberts reflects on the meaning of life and the nature of death. Told with flashbacks Eight for Eternity explores guilt and spirituality at a time when the world is processing great loss.

It was in 1947 that Stephen Lowe was born in Sneinton. The son of a labourer and a machinist, Stephen grew up in a neighbourhood of back-to-back housing before his family moved up in the world, to the high-rise flats of Manvers Court. A love of the theatre grew from his joining the youth group at the new Co-operative Arts Theatre, a place he enjoyed so much he was known to sleep there at weekends. The actor, director and artistic director but is perhaps best-known as a playwright (Touched, The Spirit of the Man, Glamour), but he has also written extensively for film and TV, including a hundred episodes of Coronation Street. Stephen Lowe is the President of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature.



1948


1948 by Andy Croft (2012)

Echoing George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Croft’s comic verse-novel is set during the 1948 London Olympics. It’s a radical alternate history of the Cold War, in which Britain rebuilds under a Labour-Communist coalition government. In Croft’s vision the Royal Family has fled to Rhodesia and the US threatens to impose an economic blockade on Britain. Featuring illustrations by Martin Rowson, 1948 combines the hard-boiled detective novels with Pushkin sonnetry, film-noir and Ealing comedy.

It was a bright cold day in April. Oh no it wasn’t – for a start I cannot find a rhyme for April… (from 1948 by Andy Croft)



In 1948 University College Nottingham was awarded the Royal Charter becoming The University of Nottingham, Britain's first post-war university, and now able to award degrees in its own name. Today, University of Nottingham is consistently ranked amongst the world's top 100 universities and has over 43,000 students from 150 countries.

______

Miranda Seymour, novelist, biographer and critic, was born in 1948. Seymour began writing as a historical novelist, moving from fiction into biography during the 1980s with her remarkable group portrait of Henry James and his literary circle: A Ring of Conspirators.


Also born in this year was Max Blagg. The Retford born poet, writer and performer is an established and respected figure on the New York literary scene, the city in which he’s lived since 1971. In the last two years Blagg has raised the dead in a series of interviews with famous deceased celebrities.

  


1949


No Boats on Bannermere (1949) by Geoffrey Trease

No Boats on Bannermere the first of Trease’s five Bannerdale novels set in Cumberland, in the Lake District. The author’s daughter and her friends requested he write a ‘modern’ story about boys and girls who went to day schools rather than the usual boarding school stories they were given to read. In the book, Bill (the narrator), his practical sister Sue, and their mother move to the Lake District. Finances are tight and the children must start their new school which means making friends with the locals. The title is in reference to the character Sir Alfred Askew, owner of Bannermere Hall, who allows no boats on the lake. The kids investigate why? 


The iconic Nottingham entertainer Su Pollard was born in 1949. Our Su is a patron of the Nottingham based group New Writers UK. 

Friday, 6 July 2018

Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature OPEN HOUSE


Tomorrow at the Mechanics you can hear what Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature has been doing since achieving its designation back in Dec 2015. The will also be a chance to express your thoughts on how Nottingham can move forward as a city of literature.

The director of NUCoL Sandeep Mahal, and its chair David Belbin, will report back on the progress that’s been made, before opening up the event to questions and discussion. So come along to the Mechanics on North Sherwood Street for a 1pm start (July 7th). The meeting will be over by 2.30pm leaving enough time to catch the England match.
More info.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

20th Century Notts, 1930-1939


 20th Century Notts Presents The 1930s



1930


The Virgin and the Gipsy and Other Stories by D H Lawrence (1930)

The Virgin and the Gipsy was discovered in France after D. H. Lawrence's death. Immediately recognized as a masterpiece in which Lawrence had distilled his ideas about sexuality and morality, The Virgin and the Gipsy has become a classic and is one of Lawrence's most electrifying short novels. Returning from overseas to a lifeless vicarage in Papplewick are Yvette and Lucile, daughters of an Anglican vicar. With their scandalous mother having done a runner, the sisters find their new home dominated by a blind and selfish grandmother. Thankfully they encounter a free-spirited young gypsy and his family, unleashing sexual curiosity and the yearning for a life beyond that which a young woman seems destined. 
They called her The Mater. She was one of those physically vulgar, clever old bodies who had got her own way all her life by buttering the weaknesses of her men-folk. (from The Virgin and the Gipsy and Other Stories)

D. H. Lawrence died, aged 44, in Vence, a town in the French Riviera. He had moved there on the advice of a doctor, thinking that the high-altitude location would benefit his failing health. Underweight and in pain, Lawrence was given morphine. He said, ‘I am better now’ before falling asleep, never to awaken. Among those consoling Frieda was her former lover Angelo Ravagli. Tasked with shipping Lawrence’s remains to Taos, New Mexico, Ravagli is said to have left them on a train. At this point it’s said that he either returned to collect them or bought another urn and filled it with ‘other’ ashes, but Ravagli later claimed that he had dumped the original ashes back in Vence and replaced them with cindered wood.


1931


Wild Rye by Muriel Hine (1931)

In Wild Rye a young woman breaks with expectations to become engaged with a man whose only creed is freedom. Muriel Hine, who lived in Nottingham at the time, explores the challenges faced by women in this locally set novel (the city is known as ‘Lacingham’). A sequel was published the following year. 
Hine’s father was the architect George Hine, a specialist in asylum architecture and the designer of Mapperley Hospital, and her grandfather was the famous local architect T. C. Hine, behind many fine creations from the Park to the Lace Market including The Birkin Building. There is a book by Ken Brand (1980) featuring the local buildings of T. C. Hine entitled, Thomas Chambers Hine: Architect of Victorian Nottingham.

Newstead Abbey, which had been sold by Lord Byron in 1817, is given to the Corporation of Nottingham for use as a city park and museum. Sir Julian Cahn - who had bought the Abbey in 1930 - and a previous owner, Charles Ian Fraser, handed over the keys to the historic ruin and its house to the Corporation at a ceremony attended by the Prime Minister of Greece.


1932


Greenbanks by Dorothy Whipple

Dorothy Whipple’s Greenbanks (1932) was chosen as the ‘Choice of the Book Society’ in this year and it became the author’s breakthrough novel, bringing with it great success. It follows an ordinary family's joys and sorrows before and after the Great War. It's a tale of infidelity, divorce, autocratic parents and rebellious offspring. Two characters, the emotional and irresponsible grandmother Louisa, and the unsentimental, charming granddaughter Rachel, were particularly well received, producing comparisons with Jane Austin. 
It was queer, it was frightening, she thought, how in life you got what you wanted. Men, for instance, who admired above everything else, beauty in women, married beauty and, more often than not, found themselves with nothing but beauty. (From Greenbanks)

In 1932 new housing was created in the Narrow Marsh district, at the foot of the Lace Market, formerly a notorious thoroughfare at the foot of St. Mary's cliff. Dick Turpin was known to have appeared in dangerous Narrow Marsh and his dealings here are recorded in a pamphlet published in 1924 by Mr. Louis Mellard. Many burglars, spies and trouble-rousers are associated with Narrow Marsh. One such character was Charlie Peace who lived there. The career criminal has featured in much popular culture such as penny dreadfuls and children’s comics. Charlie Peace: his amazing life and astounding legend is the title of a 2017 book by Michael Eaton. Nottingham Playhouse hosted a production of Eaton’s play about Charlie Peace.

A. R. Dance’s novel Narrow Marsh is set in the area during the early 19th Century when it was one of Nottingham’s worse slums.


1933


New Harrowing by Mollie Morris (1933)

Nottingham born Katharine ‘Mollie’ Morris was 23 years old when she wrote New Harrowing, decades before she penned most of her light stories set in England's green and pleasant land. The daughter of a lace manufacturer and his artistic wife, the family lived in a small country house in Blesaby. Morris took advice that ‘each character should speak with his or her own individual voice' and that she should write about the village where she lived. That advice helped her first book achieve publication by Methuen in this year. It was received with some acclaim both in the UK and the United States. Morris became known as a novelist of the English countryside. 

The Ritz Cinema on Angel Row was completed and opened in 1933. The opening film was The Private Lives of Henry VIII starring Charles Laughton. It was re-named Odeon in 1944 and also hosted live performances with the Beatles, Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly all appearing live. By 1964 it became the first cinema in the United Kingdom to be split into a twin-screen venue with two modern curtain-walled auditoriums. The upper Odeon 1 opened with The Sound of Music whilst the Odeon 2's first showing was Mary Poppins - somebody was a fan of Julie Andrews. The Odeon had six screens by the time it closed for good, in 2001.


1934


Bows Against the Barons by Geoffrey Trease (1934)

A children’s classic, Bows Against the Barons has been called ‘a seminal work of socialist literature for children’. The rich and poor clash in medieval England, yes, it’s a Robin Hood tale, in which a young lad from Nottingham is made an outlaw for killing one of the king's deer. His fight against injustice is aided by the commoners’ great leader. Robin Hood and his band of rebels stand against the elite – in Trease’s hands they are not on the King’s side – in this radical telling of the story. 
Everything in the forest was sacred to the King. To fell a tree was a crime, even to cut a branch. ... As for shooting one of the deer!... Only in the forest would he be safe. ...Fold said it was full of outlaws, old soldiers who had no work, escaped serfs and men who had broken the law... (from Bows Against the Barons)

Helen Cresswell was born in this year. Cresswell created hundreds of stories for children during a 45-year career. A former student at Nottingham High School for Girls and a member of Nottingham Writers’ Club, Cresswell inspired generations of young readers with her mix of comedy and mystery. The character Lizzie Dripping in among her best-known no doubt helped by its TV adaptation. Her best-known book is Moondail (1987), also a BBC TV series.

1935


Means-Test Man by Walter Brierley (1935)

Walter Brierley was born over the border in Derbyshire but the teenage colliery worker used his Miners’ Welfare Scholarship to apply to study at Nottingham University College. He returned to mining but was made redundant in the early 1930s. His first book Means-Test Man has been called ‘one of the most powerful and original novels of that decade’ and a ‘key work of working-class literature’. The novel draws on his first-hand experience of unemployment and poverty. Its title stems from the trauma of having to deal with a dreaded means-test when out of work. We follow the lives of Jack and Jane Cook and their young son. To get welfare help, families needed to establish that they had no other possible sources of income. The means-test man would check their most private circumstances in humiliating ways. It has parallels with today’s government/outsourced ‘interviews’. Means-Test Man was republished by the Nottingham based Spokesman Books in 2011. 


The Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Historical Pageant took place in the summer of 1935. Nottingham was suffering from the economic downturn of the time with unemployment and low wages producing poor living standards. The pageant was held to raise money for the local hospitals and for promoting the city both economically and socially. Despite poor weather, the pageant proved successful with 53,600 people paying for admission to Wollaton Park, many of the visitors being from outside Nottingham. There was a stylish handbook produced, subtitled ‘The Peerless Story of Nottinghamshire’s Glory’. Events were also held in the city centre.



1936


A Gun for Sale by Graham Greene (1936)

Nottwich - the city a few hours from London in which A Gun for Sale is set - is Nottingham; the ‘gun’ for hire is Raven; his hit a Czech Minister for War. After returning to England Raven is paid in stolen notes. Bent of revenge the ruthless anti-hero pursues the agent who crossed him. A cat-and-mouse chase follows as a detective-sergeant tracks Raven to Nottwich. With American gun and girl noir at its peak (Chandler, Hammett, Cain etc), Green’s Nottingham novel is a worthy addition to the genre. The author’s Nottwich is the grim Nottingham he remembered from his time here, the town that “makes one want a mental and physical bath every quarter of an hour." As the action takes place it appears to the reader that the killing Raven was hired for might have been intended to trigger a world war.

He had been made by hatred. (A description of Raven, from A Gun for Sale)

The last journey was made by the old Nottingham trams in this year; from Daybrook Square to the Carter Gate depot. Several of today’s modern trams are named after our writers. Look out for Tram 202 – D. H. Lawrence, Tram 205 - Lord Byron, Tram 219 - Alan Sillitoe, Tram 221 - Stephen Lowe and Tram 232 - William (Billy) Ivory. 

1937


War On Saturday Week by Ruth Adam (1937)

Arnold born Ruth Adam became a school teacher in Notts. Her first book, War on Saturday Week, examines political extremism of the time, on the left and right. It depicts children of the Great War and how they are now dealing with the effects of a pending conflict as young adults. The children’s father, like Ruth’s own father, is a clergyman. A feminist writer of twelve novels exploring social issues Adam worked for a time in the Ministry of Information. Her husband Kenneth joined the BBC, where he later became Director of Television. 

The year of J M Barrie’s death witnessed the first issue of The Dandy (for Nottingham’s connection see 1907) and Tolkien’s The Hobbit is published (for Nottingham’s connection see 1914).


1938


Brighton Rock by Graham Greene (1938)

Given that Graham Greene only spent a few months in our city it’s stretching it to call Brighton Rock a Nottingham novel but without the author’s time here the book would not exist. Greene arrived as an atheist but was baptised in the Roman Catholic faith so that he could marry his fiancée Vivian. During his time in the city Greene became convinced by Catholicism and Brighton Rock is his first Catholic novel. The book, which begins as a detective story, exposes social problems of the time, notably cruelty and the violence of gang warfare. Without his Nottingham experience Greene may have been too sheltered from the dark realities of working class life to have written Brighton Rock, and Nottingham has direct influences. The character Mrs. Prewitt, the bitter ‘hag’ with a penchant for tinned salmon, was based on Greene’s landlady in Nottingham, the nosey Mrs Lonely. A version of his digs also appears in the book. And Raven, the anti-hero of A Gun For Sale, plays a role in the promotion of young Pinkie to the leader of the mob. 
Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him. (from Brighton Rock)


1939


A Great Adventure by Muriel Hine

Muriel Hine (1873-1949), the daughter and granddaughter of important Nottingham architects, wrote several works of popular fiction, some of which are set in Nottingham, or Lacingham as she names it. One of these, set in the 1880s, is A Great Adventure. Based on Hine’s childhood, the story features her family home on the corner of Oxford Street and Regent Street (not far from the Playhouse). There is a plaque on the wall. For more on Muriel Hine I recommend that you read Exploring Nottinghamshire Writers by Rowena Edlin-White. 

Following Germany’s invasion of Poland, war is declared with Germany by the United Kingdom and France. Nottingham at War by Clive Hardy & Nigel Arthur (1987) is a pictorial account of Nottingham between 1939-45.