2 February 2020

Stanley Middleton in Sherwood, Nottingham

Lived here

The writer Stanley Middleton (1919-2009), who was born in Bulwell, Nottingham, spent more than half of his life at 42 Caledon Road, Sherwood, Nottingham. He was joint winner of the Booker (with Nadine Gordimer for The Conversationist) for his novel Holiday in 1974, and wrote about fifty other novels, virtually exclusively set in middle-class environments, although his origins are working class. He was very much a follower of the dreaded F. R. Leavis, whose influence casts a bleak shadow over English literature even today: Leavis essentially advocated the study of literature (mainly poetry) with no social, biographical, psychological, etc, background, which is enough to put anyone off the study of literature for life. I was a student of 'Stan Middo's', and fortunately Leavis didn't put me off, not that at the time I knew anything about him anyway.

Stan was a teacher at High Pavement Grammar School, Gainsford Crescent, Bestwood Estate, where (never having a car) he used to walk every day via Hucknall Road. He was a very affable, very human character with a dry sense of humour, although the thought of Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature would have left him speechless. This is a great shame, because even Salman Rushdie so wisely approved of Dylan's award. I'm pleased to see Stan has finally been awarded a plaque.

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