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20th Century Notts: 1948-1950

John Baird
Thu 12 Jul, 2018

We say Hi-de-Hi! to the halfway point of our journey through the 20th century.

1948

1948 by Andy Croft (2012)

Echoing George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Croft’s comic verse-novel is set during the 1948 London Olympics. It’s a radical alternate history of the Cold War, in which Britain rebuilds under a Labour-Communist coalition government. In Croft’s vision the Royal Family has fled to Rhodesia and the US threatens to impose an economic blockade on Britain. Featuring illustrations by Martin Rowson, 1948 combines the hard-boiled detective novels with Pushkin sonnetry, film-noir and Ealing comedy.

It was a bright cold day in April. Oh no it wasn’t – for a start I cannot find a rhyme for April… (from 1948 by Andy Croft)

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In 1948 University College Nottingham was awarded the Royal Charter becoming The University of Nottingham, Britain's first post-war university, and now able to award degrees in its own name. Today, University of Nottingham is consistently ranked amongst the world's top 100 universities and has over 43,000 students from 150 countries.

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Miranda Seymour, novelist, biographer and critic, was born in 1948. Seymour began writing as a historical novelist, moving from fiction into biography during the 1980s with her remarkable group portrait of Henry James and his literary circle: A Ring of Conspirators.

Also born in this year was Max Blagg. The Retford born poet, writer and performer is an established and respected figure on the New York literary scene, the city in which he’s lived since 1971. In the last two years Blagg has raised the dead in a series of interviews with famous deceased celebrities.

1949

No Boats on Bannermere (1949) by Geoffrey Trease

No Boats on Bannermere the first of Trease’s five Bannerdale novels set in Cumberland, in the Lake District. The author’s daughter and her friends requested he write a ‘modern’ story about boys and girls who went to day schools rather than the usual boarding school stories they were given to read. In the book, Bill (the narrator), his practical sister Sue, and their mother move to the Lake District. Finances are tight and the children must start their new school which means making friends with the locals. The title is in reference to the character Sir Alfred Askew, owner of Bannermere Hall, who allows no boats on the lake. The kids investigate why?

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The iconic Nottingham entertainer Su Pollard was born in 1949. Our Su is a patron of the Nottingham based group New Writers UK.

1950

And So to Rome (1950) by Cecil Roberts

An inveterate traveller, Cecil Roberts came to Italy in this year, aged 58, and lived for many years in the Grand Hotel in Rome. And So to Rome is one of his history slash travel works, in the same style as his previous And So to Bath (1940) and And So to America (1946). According to its blurb And So to Rome is a vivid portrayal of 2,000 years of life in the most astonishing city in the history of mankind. Roberts, who edited of The Nottingham Journal from 1920 to 1925, was awarded the Italian Gold Medal in 1966.

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Beeston held a photo exhibition to mark the centenary of the Public Libraries Act. The Public Libraries Act of 1850 made it possible for public funds to be used to support public town libraries. It was left to those holding the local purse strings to decide if public money should be used for such a purpose. The people of Nottingham petitioned for a public library but none was forthcoming at the time. Eventually the act created our enduring national institution that provides universal free access to information and literature, as was indicative of the moral, social and educative concerns of the time.

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