Sunday, 9 May 2010

"Keep beavering away" - Stanley Middleton 1919-2009, a celebration

Tamar Hodes, one of the speakers at the Nottingham celebration of the life of Stanley Middleton repeated this (a variation on the less polite army version), his advice to her as a young writer some 27 years ago, in describing how Stanley took her under his wing in Cambridge, leading to so many years of correspondence. Various of us read from or commented on his literary work, or talked about his life outside of the book world. Paul Binding gave a critique of some titles, which will certainly drive me to read or reread the ones he discussed. We were accompanied by songs from Caroline Danks, one of his grandchildren. The highlight of the day for me though was Philip Davis reading a section from Stanley's last novel, A Cautious Approach, to be published this August by Hutchinson. Philip read, wonderfully, a very moving passage about a son and father relationship, a difficult relationship. I hope the rest of the book, Stanley's 46th I think, will be as good. The event was largely organised by David Belbin and supported by both Nottingham universities, Five Leaves, Writing East Midlands and The Bookcase. The celebration was fully booked, the audience largely from an older generation of readers and those who had known Stanley from his teaching days and from his church as well as from his writing. A very fitting occasion.