A Tree on Fire by Alan Sillitoe (1967)
The second of Alan Sillitoe’s William Posters Trilogy, A Tree on Fire received a more favourable reception than the first. It’s an existential investigation of protest and revolution in 1960s North Africa and England. There are two plots, one involving Frank Dawley, the anarchist antihero of The Death of William Posters, who has disappeared into the African desert, fighting for Algerian independence against French troops; and another involving Albert Handley, an idealistic painter whose talent has made his fame. It’s not just the proletariat that are fighting social expectations in A Tree of Fire, the novel also features middle-class housewives rebelling against the empty monotony and meaningless direction of their lives.
To understand people, go into the desert, and do not come out until you understand yourself. (from A Tree of Fire)
During the second half of the 20th Century, The Evening/Nottingham Post lead the newspaper industry into the digital age. It was in 1967 that Nottingham’s premier newspaper became the first in Britain to publish computer-set editorial and advertising text. This paved the way for the full computerisation of newspaper production. Within the next decade The Post would become the first newspaper in Britain to introduce direct computer inputting from journalists.
Old Nottingham by Malcolm I Thomis (1968)
Between 1968 and 1994 Malcolm I Thomis wrote eighteen non-fiction books, many of which are of local interest. Thomis’ works include The Luddites: Machine-Breaking in Regency England, Women in Protest, 1800-1850, and Politics and Society in Nottingham, 1785-1835. First published in an attractive hardback edition by David and Charles in 1968, Old Nottingham is a study in the local history of the city. It is mainly concerned with period from 1750-1968 with an emphasis on social and economic history. There’s special reference to the (then) visible remains of yesteryear.
The dramatist Amanda Whittington was born in Nottingham in 1968. The former Nottingham Evening Post columnist has written over 30 plays for UK theatre and radio. Her debut play, Be My Baby, sheds light on teenage pregnancy in the sixties, and is studied at GCSE and A-Level English Literature. Nottingham features in Amateur Girl, the story of a woman who lives in a Viccy Centre flat. Whittington has also adapted Saturday Night and Sunday Morning for the stage. A winner of the Dennis Potter Screenwriting Award, Whittington is a Doctor of Philosophy by Publication, awarded for a programme of work Bad Girls and Blonde Bombshells.
There’s more cash in here than we earn in a month. It’s a Robin Hood thing, in’t it? Get in. (from Ladies’ Day)
The Unfortunates by B S Johnson (1969)
A journalist goes to an urban city (Nottingham) and heads to a football ground (the City Ground) to report on a match. Attempts to make his weekly report are disrupted by memories of the city and of his best friend Tony, a young victim of cancer. The Unfortunates is a heart-breaking story which celebrates friendship and reflects on death. Described as ‘a subtle critique of the self-serving Sixties’ it’s also an honest self-portrayal. The chapters are presented in twenty-seven unbound packets inside a box, designed to be read in any order, aside from the first and last sections.
D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love is adapted for the big screen by Larry Kramer. The Ken Russell film starred Alan Bates, Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson, and Jennie Linden. The plot follows the relationships between sisters Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen and two male best friends in a mining town in post-World War I England. The film explores the nature of commitment and love. It’s most famous scene is sparked by a conversation in which Rupert suggests Japanese-style wrestling: Oliver Reed and Alan Bates strip and proceed to wrestle naked by the fire. Women in Love was nominated for four Academy Awards, with Jackson picking up the Best Actress Oscar. The Evening Standard described it as “The best film this year,” and “A film about all-absorbing human passion…”