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20th Century Notts: 1945-1947

John Baird
Thu 5 Jul, 2018

Two of our authors' novels catch the eye of the filmmakers and one of our great screenwriters is born.

1945

The Escape by Clare Harvey (2018)

In a winter morning of 1945 a translator for a Nazi-run labour camp for French workers passes a group of exhausted prisoners of war marching westward. The following day she receives an urgent message to contact the local priest who is harbouring a group of escapees. Can she help? Published later this year (2018), The Escape is another mix of secrets, drama and relationships, as Clare Harvey continues to meld thrilling historical fiction with real-life characters and events. The author lives in Nottingham and completed a MA course in creative writing at the University of Nottingham.

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The year sees a film version of Mapperley Park resident Dorothy Whipple’s novel They Were Sisters. With its all-star British cast, the film was voted one of the four best films of the year. The sisters are played by Phyllis Calvert (as Lucy), Dulcie Gray (as Charlotte) and Anne Crawford (as Vera). Of the different men pursuing them it is James Mason who lands the role of Geoffrey, the ambitious and cruel businessman wanting a stay-at-home trophy wife. The film is noted for its harrowing depiction of marital abuse.

1946

The Day is Ours by Hilda Lewis

Former teacher Hilda Lewis began writing after she arrived in Nottingham in the 1920s. Her 1946 novel The Day is Ours concerns the life of a young deaf girl and the affects her condition has on her family as they struggle to give her a better life. The book was inspired by the work of her husband Professor M. Michael Lewis who was a specialist in the education of the deaf at the University of Nottingham. The Day is Ours was adapted as the film Mandy, described as ‘the greatest emotional drama yet brought to the screen’.

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The Nottingham Co-op bought a chapel on George Street where it founded the Co-operative Arts Theatre in 1946. The need for the theatre had come after the Choral, Operatic and Drama groups had outgrown their previous venue at Co-op House. When the Co-operative Wholesale Society intended to close the theatre - in 1999 - a theatre group started a campaign to buy the building. With help from Nottingham City Council and the Broadway Media Centre the asking price was met. The small theatre in the Lace Market remains active. Now called Nottingham Arts Theatre, this pink building is home to an educational charity which still provides opportunities for all within performing arts.

1947

Eight for Eternity by Cecil Roberts

Published in 1947, Eight for Eternity is one of Cecil Roberts’ more accessible reads. A Freeman of Nottingham, Roberts spent his later years living in Italy, and Monte Cassino is the setting for this story of war. The world wars have ripped apart cities and families, and peace cannot repair the destruction. Roberts reflects on the meaning of life and the nature of death. Told with flashbacks Eight for Eternity explores guilt and spirituality at a time when the world is processing great loss.

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It was in 1947 that Stephen Lowewas born in Sneinton. The son of a labourer and a machinist, Stephen grew up in a neighbourhood of back-to-back housing before his family moved up in the world, to the high-rise flats of Manvers Court. A love of the theatre grew from his joining the youth group at the new Co-operative Arts Theatre, a place he enjoyed so much he was known to sleep there at weekends. The actor, director and artistic director but is perhaps best-known as a playwright (Touched, The Spirit of the Man, Glamour), but he has also written extensively for film and TV, including a hundred episodes of Coronation Street. Stephen Lowe is the President of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature.

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