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Wain, John

father set black oxford

Wain, John

(British, 1925–94) Born in Stoke-on-Trent, Wain studied at Oxford and lectured in English literature before writing full-time. His first novel, Hurry on Down (1953), was a significant landmark in post-war British fiction, being the first appearance of the irreverent, anti-establishment hero-as-clown figure, a precursor of the Angry Young Men. The picaresque, low-life adventures of Charles Lumley are still fresh and funny today. Strike the Father Dead (1962) is another take on youthful rebellion against stuffy middle-class morality; set in 1942, the black-sheep son outrages his classics professor father by sinking to the ultimate depths of playing piano in a seedy jazz cellar, and—horror!—befriending a black horn-player. Where The Rivers Meet (1988), Comedies (1990), and Hungry Generations (1994) is a trilogy set in Oxford which takes brothers Peter and Brian Leonard from 1930s’ adolescence to the drab 1950s. As well as several volumes of poetry, Wain published literary criticism and biographies and a youthful autobiography, Sprightly Running (1962).

Kingsley Amis, Iris Murdoch, J. P. Donleavy  TH

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