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Stan Barstow (Stanley Barstow) Biography

(1928– ), (Stanley Barstow), A Kind of Loving, The Watchers on the Shore, The Right True End

English novelist, born in Horbury, Yorkshire into a mining family, and educated at Ossett Grammar School. From 1944 to 1962 he worked as a draughtsman and sales executive in the engineering industry; he graduated with an MA from the Open University in 1982. Barstow's emergence as a writer in 1960 coincided with that of John Braine, Alan Sillitoe, and other ‘angry young men’. His first novel, A Kind of Loving (1960), a candid and moving story of contemporary pressures on love and marriage, was an immediate success and was followed by a celebrated film version in 1962. Having helped to put the north of England and the working-class hero on the literary map, Barstow continued to search for the universal within a canvas of northern provincial life. Set in the same fictitious town of Cressley were two sequels to his first novel, The Watchers on the Shore (1966) and The Right True End (1976), which follow its hero, Vic Brown, through the break-up of his unfortunate marriage and into a more fulfilling and loving relationship; the trilogy was published as A Kind of Loving: The Vic Brown Trilogy in 1981 and adapted for television in the same year. After Ask Me Tomorrow (1962), an introspective work about a writer, appeared Joby (1964), written from the point of view of an 11-year-old boy whose own problems are matched by the impending crisis of the Second World War. Realistic settings and a continuing concern with marriage and loneliness characterize A Raging Calm (1968; adapted for television, 1974), and A Brother's Tale (1980). The Yorkshire town of ‘Daker’ during the Second World War is the setting for Barstow's trilogy comprising Just You Wait and See (1986), Give Us This Day (1989), and Next of Kin (1991); focusing on the Palmer family it vividly evokes the atmosphere of a small town plunged into war. In his short stories, volumes of which include The Desperadoes and Other Stories (1961), A Season with Eros (1971), and The Glad Eye and Other Stories (1984), Barstow shows a realistic appreciation of contemporary concerns.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Houston A. Baker (Houston Alfred to Sally Beauman Biography