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Alan Sillitoe

Alan Sillitoe (born 4 March, 1928) is an English writer, one of the "Angry Young Men" of the 1950s.


Sillitoe was born in Nottingham, to working class parents. Like Arthur Seaton, the anti-hero of Sillitoe's first novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, his father worked in the Raleigh factory.

He served in the Royal Air Force ,where he was a wireless operator . After returning to England from Malaya he was discovered to have Tuberculosis and he spent sixteen months in an RAF hospital.

Pensioned off at 21 on 45 shillings at week, he lived in France and Spain for seven years in an attempt to recover.Whilst living in Majorca, with his lover, American poet Ruth Fainlight, in 1955, and in contact with the poet Robert Graves, Sillitoe commenced work on Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, which was published in 1958. Influenced in part by the stripped-down prose of Hemingway, the book conveys the attitudes and situation of a young factory worker faced with the inevitable end of his youthful philandering. As with Look Back in Anger and Room at the Top, the novel's real subject was the disillusionment of post-war Britain, and the lack of opportunities for the working class. It was adapted as a film by Karel Reisz in 1960, with Albert Finney as Arthur Seaton.

His story The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, which concerns the rebellion of a borstal boy with a talent for running, won the Hawthornden Prize in 1959. It was also adapted into a film, this time directed by Tony Richardson, and starring Tom Courtenay (1962).

In 1990, he was awarded an honorary degree from Nottingham Trent University. The city's older, prestigious Russell Group university, The University of Nottingham, also awarded Sillitoe an honorary DLitt degree in 1994, and in 2006 his best known play was staged at the University's Lakeside Arts theatre in an in-house production.

Sillitoe has written many more novels, and several volumes of poetry, listed below. His 1995 autobiography Life Without Armour was critically acclaimed on publication, and offers a view into his squalid childhood.

In 2007 Gadfly in Russia was published an account of his travels in Russia spanning 40 years. In 2008 London Books republished A Start in Life as part of their London Classics series and to mark the author's 80th birthday.

He married Ruth Fainlight, lives in London and has two children.


  • Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
    London: Allen, 1958; New York: Knopf, 1959;
    new edition with an introduction by Sillitoe, commentary and notes by David Craig,
    In the Longman edition 1976 there is
    a sequence of Nottingham photographs, and stills from the film, Harlow
  • The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
    London: Allen, 1959;
    New York: Knopf, 1960.
  • The General
    London: Allen, 1960;
    New York: Knopf, 1961.
  • Key to the Door
    London: Allen, 1961;
    New York: Knopf, 1962;
    reprinted, with a new preface by Sillitoe, London: Allen, 1978.
  • Road To Volgograd
    London: Allen, 1964;
    New York: Knopf, 1964.
  • The Death of William Posters
    London: Allen, 1965;
    New York: Knopf, 1965.
  • The City Adventures of Marmalade Jim
    London: Macmillan, 1967;
    Toronto: Macmillan, 1967;
    revised edition, illustrated by Shelagh McGee, London: Robson, 1977.
  • A Tree on Fire
    London: Macmillan, 1967;
    Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968.
  • A Sillitoe Selection: Eight Short Stories, edited by Michael Morland
    London: Longmans Group, 1968.
  • A Start in Life
    London: Allen, 1970;
    New York: Scribners, 1971.
  • Travels in Nihilon
    London: Allen, 1971;
    New York: Scribners, 1972.
  • Raw Material
    London: Allen, 1972;
    New York: Scribners, 1973;
    revised edition, London: Pan Books, 1974;
    further revised, London: Star Books, 1978;
    further revised, London: Allen, 1979.
  • Men, Women and Children
    London: Allen, 1973;
    New York: Scribners, 1974.
  • From Canto Two of The Rats
    Wittersham, Kent: Alan Sillitoe, 1973.
  • Somme
    London: Steam Press, 1974.
    In Steam Press Portfolio, no. 2.
    50 copies.
  • The Flame of Life
    London: Allen, 1974.
  • Down to the Bone
    illustrated by Kathy Wyatt
    Exeter: Wheaton, 1976.
  • Day-Dream Communiqué
    Knotting, Bedfordshire: Sceptre Press, 1977.
    150 copies.
  • Big John and the Stars
    illustrated by Agnes Molnar
    London: Robson, 1977.
  • The Widower's Son
    Allen, 1976;
    New York: Harper & Row, 1977.
  • The Incredible Fencing Fleas
    illustrated by Mike Wilks.
    London: Robson, 1978.
  • The Storyteller
    London: Allen, 1979; New York: Simon & Schuster, 1980.
  • Marmalade Jim at the Farm
    illustrated by Shelagh McGee.
    London: Robson, 1980.
  • More Lucifer
    Knotting, Bedfordshire: Martin Booth, 1980.
    125 copies.
  • Her Victory
    London: Granada, 1982; New York: Watts, 1982.
  • The Lost Flying Boat
    London: Granada, 1983; Boston: Little, Brown, 1983.
  • The Saxon Shore Way: From Gravesend to Rye
    by Sillitoe and Fay Godwin.
    London: Hutchinson, 1983.
  • Down from the Hill
    London: Granada, 1984.
  • Marmalade Jim and the Fox
    illustrated by Tony Ross
    London: Robson, 1984.
  • Life Goes On
    London: Granada, 1985.
  • Out of the Whirlpool
    illustrated by Peter Farmer
    London: Hutchinson, 1987.
  • The Open Door
    London: Grafton/Collins, 1989.
  • Last Loves
    London: Grafton, 1990; Boston: Chivers, 1991.
  • Leonard's War A Love Story
    London: HarperCollins, 1991.
  • Shylock the Writer
    London: Turret Bookshop, 1991.
  • The Mentality of the Picaresque Hero
    London: Turret Bookshop, 1993
    Turret Papers, no. 2
    500 copies
  • Snowstop
    London: HarperCollins, 1993.
  • Life Without Armour
    London: HarperCollins, 1995.
  • The Broken Chariot
    London: Flamingo/HarperCollins, 1998.
  • The German Numbers Woman
    London: Flamingo/HarperCollins, 1999.
  • Birthday London: Flamingo/HarperCollins, 2001.
  • A Man of His Time
    Harper Perennial, 2005
    ISBN 0007173288
    ISBN 9780007173280


  • Chopin’s Winter in Majorca 1838-1839
    by Luis Ripall, translated by Sillitoe.
    Palma de Majorca:
    Mossen Alcover, 1955.
  • Chopin’s Pianos: The Pleyel in Majorca,
    by Luis Ripall,
    translated by Sillitoe.
    Palma de Majorca: Mossen Alcover, 1958.
  • All Citizens Are Soldiers (Fuente Ovejuna)
    a Play in Two Acts, by Lope de Vega
    translated by Sillitoe and Ruth Fainlight
    London: Macmillan, 1969;
    Chester Springs, PA: Dufour, 1969.
  • Poems for Shakespeare, volume 7
    edited and translated by Sillitoe and Ruth Fainlight
    London: Bear Gardens Museum & Arts Centre, 1979.


  • Without Beer or Bread.
    Dulwich Village: Outposts, 1957.
  • The Rats and Other Poems
    London: Allen, 1960.
  • Falling Out of Love and Other Poems
    London; Allen, 1964;
    Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1964.
  • Shaman: And Other Poems"
    Turret, 1968
    Limited ed. of 500 copies
    100 copies signed and numbered.
  • Love in the Environs of Voronezh and Other Poems
    London: Macmillan, 1968;
    Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1969.
  • Poems
    by Sillitoe, Ruth Fainlight and Ted Hughes
    London: Rainbow Press, 1971.
    300 copies
  • Barbarians and Other Poems
    London: Turret Books, 1973.
    500 copies
  • Storm: New Poems
    London: Allen, 1974.
  • From Snow on the North Side of Lucifer
    Knotting, Bedfordshire: Sceptre Press, 1979.
    150 Copies
  • Snow on the North Side of Lucifer: Poems
    London: Allen, 1979
  • Poems for Shakespeare 7
    Bear Gardens Museum and Arts Centre, 1979
    Limited to 500 copies all copies are numbered
  • Sun Before Departure: Poems, 1974-1982
    London: Granada, 1984
  • Tides and Stone Walls:
    Poems, with photographs by Victor Bowley

    London: Grafton, 1986.
  • Three Poems
    Child Okefurd, Dorset: Words Press, 1988.
    200 copies.
  • Collected Poems
    London: HarperCollins, 1993.


  • Mountains and Caverns: Selected Essays
    London: Allen, 1975
  • Words Broadsheet Nineteen
    by Sillitoe and Ruth Fainlight.
    Bramley, Surrey: Words Press, 1975.
  • “The Interview.”
    London: The 35s
    (Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry), 1976.
  • Israel: Poems on a Hebrew Theme, with drawings by Ralph Steadman
    London: Steam Press, 1981.
    98 copies.
  • Alan Sillitoe’s Nottinghamshire, with photographs by David Sillitoe. London: Grafton, 1987.


  • Three Plays
    London: Allen, 1978
    The Slot-Machine
    The Interview,
    Pit Strike


  • Every Day of the Week:
    An Alan Sillitoe Reader, with an introduction by John Sawkins

    London: Allen, 1987.
  • Collected Stories
    London: Flamingo, 1995.

Collections of Stories

  • The Ragman’s Daughter and Other Stories
    London: Allen, 1963;
    New York: Knopf, 1964.
  • Guzman, Go Home, and Other Stories
    London: Macmillan, 1968;
    Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1969;
    reprinted, with a new preface by Sillitoe, London; Allen, 1979.
  • Men, Women and Children
    London: Allen, 1973;
    New York: Scribners, 1974.
  • The Second Chance and Other Stories
    London: Cape, 1981;
    New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981.
  • The Far Side of the Street: Fifteen Short Stories
    London: Allen, 1988.
  • Alligator Playground: A Collection of Short Stories
    Flamingo, 1997
    ISBN 0006550738


  • Life Without Armour
    (HarperCollins, 1995)
    ISBN 0002555700
    ISBN 9780002555708
    • Contents
      • The General Other Poems
        • Kedah, D. H. Lawrence, Nottingham
      • Men Women and Children All Citizens are Soldiers with Ruth
        • Mike Edmonds, Majorca, Malaga
      • Out of the Whirlpool
        • Karel Reisz, Rosica, Albert Finney

Further reading

  • Alan Sillitoe: A Bibliography

By David E. Gerard
H.W. Wilson, 1986
Mansell, 1988
ISBN 0887361048 Mansell
ISBN 0720118298 H.W. Wilson

  • Contents of "Alan Sillitoe: A Bibliography":
    • Alan Sillitoe, Shueisha, Ruth Fainlight
    • Contributions to books and periodicals 55
    • Jewish Chronicle, F.E.S. Finn, short story
    • Materials of critical and biographical interest92
    • David Storey, Nottingham Evening Post, Notts County
  • Alan Sillitoe
    By Allen R Penner
    Thomson Gale, 1983
  • ISBN 0805714960

    • Commitment As Art by Ronald Dee Vaverka
      (1978 - Dissertation--Uppsala Univ);
    • Alan Sillitoe: A Critical Assessment by S.S. Atherton (1979);
    • The British Working-Class Novel in the Twentieth Century

    Contributor Jeremy Hawthorn
    (E. Arnold, 1984)

    • Alan Sillitoe: A Bibliography by David Gerard
      (Greenwood Pub Group, 1988)
      ISBN 0713164158
      ISBN 9780713164152
    • Working-class Fiction in Theory and Practice
      Peter Hitchcock
      (Peter Hitchcock)
      ISBN 0835719766
      ISBN 9780313276729
    • Understanding Alan Sillitoe
      Gillian Mary Hanson
      (South Carolina Press, 1999)
      ISBN 157003219X
    • The Long Apprenticeship: Alienation in the Early Work of Alan Sillitoe
      John Sawkins
      (Peter Lang, 2001)
      ISBN 3906764508
    • The life of a long-distance writer
      The biography of Alan Sillitoe
      Richard Bradford
      ISBN 978 0 7206 13179
      (Times Online, UK

    External links

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