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Melvyn Bragg Biography

(1939– ), For Want of a Nail, The Hired Man, A Place in England, Kingdom Come

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British novelist, journalist, and playwright, born in Cumbria, educated at Wadham College, Oxford. A sense of place is crucial to his fiction which is for the most part set in Cumbria and celebrates its dialect and landscape. Many of his novels describe the interaction between social expectation and the psychological and emotional development of individual men and women. They include For Want of a Nail (1965), and his ‘Cumbrian Trilogy’, The Hired Man (1969), A Place in England (1971), and Kingdom Come (1980), which emphasizes the physical hardships endured by agricultural labourers in the early years of the century and suggests that later generations of the Tallentire family (the main protagonists) find it difficult to engage with the contemporary world with the same vigour as their forebears. As well as his work as a screenwriter for film and television, which includes the successful 1984 adaptation of his novel The Hired Man for the stage, Bragg has a considerable reputation as a producer and presenter of arts programmes on television; he draws on this milieu in Love and Glory (1983), depicting the struggle between two ambitious men, an actor and a television producer. The Maid of Buttermere (1987) returns to a pastoral setting and fictionalizes the story of a ninteenth-century con man who bigamously marries an innkeeper's daughter. Later works include A Time To Dance (1990), Crystal Rooms (1992), and Credo (1996). The Seventh Seal (1993) is a critical appreciation of Bergman's film, and includes an account of Bragg's meeting with Bergman.

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