Thursday, 21 April 2011

Every day of the week: a celebration of the life and work of Alan Sillitoe

Around 150 people attended the British Library celebration of Alan Sillitoe last night. There was an impressive line up of speakers including Margaret Drabble, Alan Jenkins (from the TLS), Miranda Seymour, DJ Taylor, Elaine Feinstein, Peter Chasseaud (who shared a love of WW1 trench maps with Alan), Richard Bradford and Tansy Davies (who had written a requiem for Remembance Sunday which was influenced by Alan). With a fairly short event none of the speakers could go into too much detail, but Margaret Drabble's contribution emphasised how much Alan wrote about nature, in a quite natural way as a backdrop to his writing. DJT said that "[Sillitoe] managed never to separate himself from those things which are worth writing about" while Elaine Feinstein reminded us about Alan's work in support of Soviet Jewry and his address to a Soviet Writers' Union conference, in the presence of Brezhnev, about human rights abuses in the Soviet Union. But Alan was not a "political writer" - "I tell stories" was the phrase he used.

The formal setting in the BL Auditorium precluded the kind of rumbustiousness seen at the Nottingham event held a few months ago, but it was well worth attending, particularly to catch up with Michael and Ann Sillitoe, Alan's brother and sister-in-law.

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