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Alan Sillitoe

Kirsty Young's castaway is writer Alan Sillitoe.

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the writer Alan Sillitoe. 50 years ago his debut novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning captured the truth and brutality of post war working class life. It was a world he knew intimately - he grew up in the tight, terraced streets of Nottingham and, from a very young age, harboured an ambition to escape.

As a child, he read voraciously and knew he wanted to explore the world. During the war he was a navigator in Malaya but, when he returned to Britain, he was shocked to be told he had contracted tuberculosis. As he convalesced in hospital he started writing and, once he had been discharged, his disability pension gave him the security to sustain him while he pursued his career. When Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was published, critics said his was a more authentic voice than D H Lawrence's. But the extraordinary reviews made scant impact on Alan Sillitoe - he says he had developed a healthy scorn for the opinions of critics - but he remains grateful, he says, to the book that brought him security and which has allowed him the freedom to write throughout his life.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: Le Ca Ira by Edith Piaf
Book: The Air Publication 1234 (RAF Manual)
Luxury: A communications receiver (receiving only).

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 30 Jan 2009 09:00

Music Played

  • Bobby Darin

    Mack the Knife

    • Hit Singles 1958-1977.
    • Atlantic.
  • Paul Robeson

    Ol' Man River

    • A Lonesome Road.
    • ASV.
  • William Walton

    Battle of Agincourt (from Henry V)

    Soloist: Sir Laurence Olivier Orchestra: The Philharmonia Orchestra Conductor: Sir William Walton

    • Walton: Scenes from Henry V.
    • EMI.
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams

    Seventeen come Sunday (from English Folk Song Suite)

    Orchestra: The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor: Vernon Handley

    • Vaughan Williams: Oboe Concerto.
    • EMI.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Édith Piaf

      Le Ca Ira

      • Edith Piaf: 25th Anniversary.
      • Columbia.
  • Cleo Laine

    Let's Slip Away

    • I Hear Music.
    • Salvo.
  • Frédéric Chopin

    Prelude in D flat major, Op. 28/15 'Raindrop'

    Soloist: Artur Rubinstein

    • Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 2.
    • RCA.
  • George Frideric Handel

    Where'er you walk (from Semele)

    Soloist: Bryn Terfel

    • Handel: Arias Track 11.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • Book Choice

    • The Air Publication 1234 (RAF Manual)

  • Luxury Choice

    • A communications receiver (receiving only)


Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest Alan Sillitoe


  • Sun 25 Jan 2009 11:15
  • Fri 30 Jan 2009 09:00

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