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Braine, John

joe top

(British, 1922–86)

A Bradford lad, a librarian and a Yorkshireman by profession, Braine wrote his first novel, Room at the Top (1957), while convalescing from tuberculosis in hospital. Nothing and nobody will stop Joe Lampton, its ruthless and calculating hero, from escaping his lowly origins and achieving success, even if it means marrying a rich man's daughter he doesn't love. Life at the Top (1962) continues Joe's saga to its predictable bitter finale. Although he was lumped with the Angry Young Men of the 1950s, Braine never really belonged there, and his own views became increasingly, and outspokenly, right wing. His later novels deal with the upset caused to middle-class morality when the sexual impulse rears its ugly head. In The Jealous God (1964) it's a reserved schoolmaster who defies his fiercely Catholic and possessive mother by having an affair with a divorced woman; Stay with Me Till Morning (1970) is about the break-up of a respectable couple's solid marriage through casual adultery.

Stan Barstow, Alan Sillitoe, David Storey  TH

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