(1928—2010) English writer
writer, brought up in Nottingham, one of five children of an illiterate and often unemployed labourer. He started work aged 14 in a bicycle factory, then served in the RAF in Malaya. On demobilization he was found to have tuberculosis and spent eighteen months in hospital. He met the American poet Ruth Fainlight (whom he married in 1952), and together they travelled in Europe, spending some years in Majorca, where he was encouraged to write by Robert Graves.
His much‐praised first novel, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958), describes the life of Arthur Seaton, a dissatisfied young Nottingham factory worker. Unlike other provincial novels of the 1950s (see Cooper, W.; Amis, K.; Larkin; Braine; Wain), its hero is a working man, not a rising member of the lower middle class; Birthday (2001) is a sequel. The title story of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1959) is a first‐person portrait of a rebellious and anarchic borstal boy who refuses both literally and metaphorically to play the games of the establishment. His other works include the novels The Death of William Posters (1965), A Tree on Fire (1967), A Start in Life (1970), The Widower's Son (1976), Lost Loves (1990), and A Man of His Time (2004); the semi‐autobiographical Raw Material (1972); Men, Women and Children (1973, short stories); and Mountains and Caverns (1975, essays). He has also published volumes of poetry, including Collected Poems (1993), and written plays and screenplays from his own fiction.