The Life of a Long-Distance Writer: a Biography of Alan Sillitoe

Richard Bradford

The Life of a Long-Distance Writer: a Biography of Alan Sillitoe

This is the authorised biography of one of England's greatest living writers, author of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. Written with exclusive access to Sillitoe's personal archive, it includes exciting new material on this most uncompromising of writers, including new revelations on his political beliefs and close friendships with the likes of Ted Hughes. 3.7 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
The Life of a Long-Distance Writer: a Biography of Alan Sillitoe

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Biography, Literary Studies & Criticism
Format Hardback
Pages 412
RRP £25.00
Date of Publication September 2008
ISBN 978-0720613179
Publisher Peter Owen
 

This is the authorised biography of one of England's greatest living writers, author of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. Written with exclusive access to Sillitoe's personal archive, it includes exciting new material on this most uncompromising of writers, including new revelations on his political beliefs and close friendships with the likes of Ted Hughes.

Reviews

The New Statesman

Brendan O'Neill

[A] lucid, unsentimental official biography... The great service of Bradford's biography is to explain why Sillitoe belongs to no fad, no set, no trend, and to show us what he truly is: one of our great writers... That this writer emerged from the slums of Nottingham speaks to far more than a story of "working-class boy done good"; it reveals the nobility of literature, and how universal stories of truth and transcendence can emerge from the most unlikely quarters.

30/10/2008

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The Daily Telegraph

Bevis Hillier

Bradford makes a convincing case that [Sillitoe] was a writer quite different in kind from the other new arrivals from the Midlands and the north. He was a man of the working class who, in his novels, showed working-class life exactly as it was, with no hint of the patronising (such as Bradford detects in the Bloomsbury hanger-on DH Lawrence) and absolutely no Left-wing idea that the working class needed rescuing from its abject state... For the most part, the book is soaringly intelligent and a most enjoyable read, though Bradford does sometimes lapse into the unappealing jargon of the professional academic.

07/11/2008

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Times Literary Supplement

DJ Taylor

Bradford’s partisanship is one of his great strengths – Sillitoe has always needed partisans – and also a minor weakness. On the one hand, his closeness to Sillitoe, with whom he seems to have regularly discussed the book as it took shape, allows him to bounce hypotheses off him and to solicit a good many sharp-eyed retrospective judgements. On the other, it leads to the staking of some very large claims, both for the work itself and the wider landscape beyond it.. Yet these exaggerations are a price worth paying for the wider point that Bradford wants to make about Sillitoe’s early books, or rather about their reception: the critics’ habit of saluting their “realism” at the expense of the artistry that ran beneath.

01/10/2008

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The Independent

James Urquhart

Bradford draws together many accounts of Sillitoe's fierce rejection of the patronising prescription of "proletarian writer". He never thought of himself "as being of the 'so-called' working class". How this played during his Russian trips makes entertaining reading... Bradford can be pompous in defending Sillitoe's socialist principles, but there is zest to his appraisal of a uniquely self-confident voice.

27/01/2009

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The Observer

James Purdon

Authorised biographies, like official portraits, tend to cover blemishes, play down imperfections and tidy mess. Bradford's biography falls into this category... Youthful exploits in particular receive a swift coat of gloss... More troublesome than the gaps are the strange additions; Bradford would have written a better book if he didn't feel the need to launch so many spitballs at the busts of the old guard. Attacking Molly Bloom's monologue in Ulysses as "an exercise in snobbishness disguised as art" adds nothing to his praise for Sillitoe as a stylist of interiority.

11/01/2009

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